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Red Wings Underground Practice Ice Taking Shape

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It may be getting warmer outside but we’re planning for ice inside the Detroit Events Center—specifically the new practice ice.

Ironworkers began construction of the new Detroit Red Wings underground practice ice facility roof this week with the placement of structural steel in the southwest corner of the arena.

The facility will serve as a warm-up and training area for the Red Wings players but also as an amateur hockey facility to host tournaments, events and training on non-game days.

By the end of April, crane operators will have lifted and placed a total of 14 massive steel girders, each weighing nearly 60,000 pounds. The girders are painted white and will be exposed to create a unique roof structure for the new rink.

“The way this has come together it’s quite an architectural statement,” said Duane Hartley, project manager for Detroit-based Midwest Steel. “The pieces that support the girders are very unique. You want a big open span and you get that with these 120-foot girders.”

It’s taken a lot of planning and engineering just to deliver the steel girders to the jobsite and get them close enough to be hoisted into place by a crane. Semi-trucks have been specially rigged to allow drivers to steer back wheels when maneuvering on the jobsite.

The practice ice facility will also become the new home of the Little Caesars AAA Hockey Club, which was established by the Ilitch family in 1968. The program has produced more than 100 National Hockey League players, including Brian Rafalski and Mike Modano, and collected 14 national championships. This season alone, the Little Caesars AAA program had nine teams in the 12 state finals, capturing a total of six state titles. That unprecedented showing saw the Little Caesars AAA Hockey Club send four teams of the six eligible age groups to vie for national championships.

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