News & Politics

Here’s How Capital One Arena Transforms When Both the Capitals and the Wizards are in the Playoffs

It takes a lot of coffee.

Photo courtesy of Monumental Sports.

Ever wonder how Capital One Arena goes from basketball court to ice and back again in the span of a day? We talked to Jordan Silberman, VP of Operations at Capital One Arena, for a glimpse of the round-the-clock hustle that gets the venue ready for this wonderful time of year when both the Capitals and the Wizards are in the playoffs.

First off, “The ice is always underneath the court,” explains Silberman. “A lot of people don’t necessarily realize that.” The wood floor gets laid in a “zipper-like” fashion to create the Wizards’ playing surface on top of the ice. A refrigeration system beneath the ice keeps it from melting.

Silberman says he’s basically on call 24 hours a day. How much coffee does the crew drink? “A lot.”

Here’s a by-the-numbers look of what it takes to make the magic happen.

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events at Capital One Arena per year


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full-time crew members


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12,000 to 15,000

gallons of water make the ice


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1 to 1.5

thickness of the ice in inches


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4 to 8

number of hours it takes to go from ice to court


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pieces of 1-inch thick insulated sub-floor that create a barrier between the ice and the court


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rows of flooring that are each made up of 15 4′ x 8′ pieces of cushioned lumber to make the court


Here’s a time-lapse video of the ice being built.

Video courtesy of Monumental Sports.

Kim Olsen

Kim Olsen ([email protected]) is a freelance writer in Alexandria.