Originally created 08/16/98

Ice floor gradually installed



Installation of the $1 million ice floor at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center continues on schedule, while ground was broken last week at the site of the Augusta IceForum on Augusta West Parkway.

The Augusta Lynx begin their inaugural season in the East Coast Hockey League at the civic center Oct. 15 against the Jacksonville Lizard Kings. The IceForum will serve as the Lynx practice facility and will be open to the public this fall.

"Both projects are right on track," Lynx general manager Paul Gamsby said. "We couldn't be more pleased with the way things are going."

Cimco-Lewis, the Toronto-based company that has built more than 4,000 ice floors for National Hockey League and minor-league arenas across North America, began the civic center project June 26 with destruction of the original concrete floor.

Next, the installation of a network of cooling pipes containing a brine-based solution that flows through a refrigeration system.

Last week began the most time-consuming phase of the project -- the pouring of the concrete floor. It took most of the day Thursday to pour the concrete, and now the construction crew must wait about another 18 days for the surface to cure.

Once cured, the temperature will be taken down 3 degrees a day over an eight-day period before attempting to make ice for the first time.

"They can't take the temperature down too fast because the concrete will just explode," Gamsby said. "The way I had it explained to me is that concrete has a memory. It remembers where it was last."

Following testing, installation of the dasher boards will be the final step in the two-month-long process.

"We're so pleased they hired (Cimco-Lewis), they can do this in their sleep," Gamsby said. "It's no nonsense. They just work."

Once the civic center project is complete, Cimco-Lewis workers move on to the IceForum to install the ice floor there in time for the tentative Oct. 1 grand opening.

The IceForum will offer public skating, hockey classes and leagues, figure skating classes and private lessons. It will be open year-round and feature regulation-size NHL ice, a full-service snack bar with fireplace, pro shop, video games, skate sharpening and repair service, skate rentals, spectator seating and locker rooms with showers.

IceForum owner Jack Burton also operates two suburban-Atlanta rinks, including the Atlanta IceForum in Gwinnett County, where the Lynx will hold preseason training camp beginning Oct. 3.

Along with hockey, the IceForum will offer a top-rate figure skating program led by director Donald Laws, who coached former Olympic and world champion Scott Hamilton.