Rooftop rink in Toronto takes hockey to new heights

Tuesday January 19th, 2016

In downtown Toronto, 32 stories above Adelaide Street West, you’ll find a rink unlike any hockey fans have ever skated on.

As part of its #AnythingForHockey campaign, the Canadian beer company Molson opened the 100-by-45-foot rink on Monday to glowing reviews. The temperature dipped to a frigid 14 degrees Fahrenheit but that was of no concern to anyone who spent time on the ice, which is half the size of an official NHL sheet. Optimized for a 3-on-3 game, it offered breathtaking views of Toronto’s CN Tower as well as the city’s sprawling west end.

Molson began conceptualizing the rink in the fall in an attempt to build off the success of its first #AnythingForHockey campaign last year that took place in a remote mountain location near Panorama, British Columbia. Contest winners were given the opportunity to skate on the rink after proving the extreme lengths they’ll go to watch or play hockey.

“We were looking to do something similar but to get more people involved,” says Brock Hendricks, the U.S. associate brand manager with Molson Canadian. “With this location, it allows for more access. We’re going to open it up to the public and allow people to register to come up here.”

• GALLERY: The NHL Outdoors

The rink will be available from January 29 to February 7. Groups of 20 can purchase an hour-and-a-half session for $2,000, which includes access to the company’s lounge on the 20th floor. On Jan. 20, fans will be given another opportunity to win a skate on the rooftop rink as a new #AnythingForHockey contest begins.

“We’re invested heavily in the game, what it means and how obsessed people are here in Canada especially,” says Richard Kuypers, the company’s senior manager of sponsorship and events.

Playing for your hometown NHL team has its special headaches

With construction ongoing at a skyscraper next door, a crane was borrowed help build the rink. Four chiller systems were required as well as a sub-floor. The rink is now complete with goals, boards, glass and netting to stop errant pucks from flying out. The project began Nov. 28 and was completed on Jan. 10. Smart Ice, a rink construction consulting company, was hired to help and there was no shortage of challenges.

“The biggest hurdle we had as of late was the warm rain,” says Kuypers. “Twice we had the launch date pushed back. We’re at the mercy of the weather.”

Coaches from the Bradford Bulldogs minor youth hockey association spent upwards of seven hours on the rink on Monday morning. They called it a “unique experience” and said being it was, “Just like playing on the pond.”

Kuypers noted that before sunrise that day members of the Toronto Maple Leafs alumni were out on the rink.

“They’ve obviously been on ice their whole lives but they get out there and they’re like kids again,” he says. “They’re flipping pucks, they’re hanging around, taking pictures and that’s when you know this thing takes people back to their roots.”

Except in this case, the roots are well above the treetops.

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