Setting up Hockey Day Minnesota

With Hockey Day in full stride in Mankato, it is obvious how much planning and organization that has gone in to make this event a reality. Hockey Day, a yearly tradition for Minnesotans, began in 2007. The event was created by the Minnesota Wild to celebrate the sport of hockey in Minnesota. 

In cooperation with Bally Sports North, The Minnesota Wild chose the location for Hockey Day years before the event in order to create enough time to plan and organize. 

For Mankato’s Hockey Day celebration, planning began roughly two years ago according to Lindsay Botker, a member of the Local Organizing Committee. 

“I was part of the initial group out here once we announced that Hockey Day was coming to Mankato,” said Botker. 

When it came to choosing Mankato as the location, Botker made note that there were local rumblings for support in the area, but some die hard fans decided to reach out to make it happen. 

“After seeing it in Saint Cloud,” said Botker, “they really saw that they had a competitive chance to land it.” 

Botker has been responsible for Logistics and Operations for the event, and has been working hard to bring Hockey Day to life. The outdoor event is being held at the Blakeslee Stadium at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and building a hockey rink on a football field brings a plethora of unique challenges. 

According to Botker, there is a significant pitch on the stadium, and for ice rinks to function they need to be perfectly level. 

To solve this problem the organizing crew laid out roughly a foot of sand on one side in order to keep the rink level. 

“They essentially made a sandbox on which the rink sits,” said Botker, “if you see on one side closer to the visitor’s grandstand it is almost field level, and on the other it is lifted further up.”

In addition to the rink there are several other logistical challenges, such as televising the main events and organizing the village area.Within the village, just behind the grandstand, there will be food and drink vendors, as well as pond hockey rinks for kids to skate on. 

As far as large-scale construction for the event, there is a five thousand square foot VIP tent that was constructed on the south side of the rink, as well as a 20 thousand square foot entertainment tent. 

After Saturday, the next logistical hurdle will be striking the Hockey Day set up and returning Blakeslee back to normal. 

“Priority number one is the entertainment tent so we can return that back to MSU,” said Botker. “They have been very gracious to allow us to monopolize that space, so we want to get people who have parking passes access to that lot as soon as possible”.

As for melting the rink, according to Botker, it depends on the weather. 

“It all depends on mother nature and how warm the temperatures get,” said Botker, “so we can slowly let that melt and slowly disassemble.”

Header photo: A mix of die hard fans and Mankato natives vouched for the city to host Hockey Day Minnesota. Hockey Day now comes to Blakeslee Stadium requiring leveling, extra seating, an a 20,000 square foot entertainment tent.

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