NHL begins makeover of Grey Cup site for outdoor Sens game

The NHL has taken over TD Place stadium to start laying the groundwork for what will be an outdoor NHL rink for the Dec. 16 game between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens.

200 workers will lay down refrigeration system, build boards and spray ice over next 10 days

The NHL crew starts laying down the foundation for the equipment that will create an outdoor rink at the usual home of the Ottawa Fury and Redblacks Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

The Grey Cup midfield logo and some blue-and-white confetti may remain from the CFL's Nov. 26 championship game, but the physical transformation of TD Place stadium into a hockey venue is now underway.

The Ottawa Senators host the Montreal Canadiens at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 16, followed by a game between the Ottawa 67's and Gatineau Olympiques the following day.

The NHL officially took over the stadium on Friday.

Its refrigeration truck arrived Sunday.

Journalists get a look inside the NHL's refrigeration truck, which holds temperature-management equipment that's basically the same as what's in the Canadian Tire Centre and other NHL rinks. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

Today, around 200 workers started laying down the foundation of what will hold cooling trays, the boards and around six centimetres of ice — twice as thick as what's used indoors.

The all-Canadian setup crew is about 200 people, some who work at TD Place. It includes 16 people dedicated to making and managing the ice. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

"For the first four days we'll focus on our [pipes] … by Wednesday or Thursday you'll see the boards go up," said Derek King, the NHL's senior manager of facilities operations.

"Right after that we'll start making ice for about seven days. We'll start making ice on Thursday and we'll be looking to finish up the following Thursday around noon."

The players will likely be hitting this ice for practice on Friday.

Derek King, right, has worked 11 outdoor NHL games since 2011. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

"We're expecting [the ice] to be as good as what they have inside. we can't control some of the conditions but looking ahead to game day, we work as hard as we can to give the players as close to an identical surface as they play on inside," King said.

"We can control the fluid going to the ice, we can warm the ice surface, we can cool it as well, so depending on our outdoor conditions we have some control over what they'll be skating on."

King said the usual home of the CFL's Ottawa Redblacks and USL's Ottawa Fury soccer team doesn't present any particular challenge.

He said they've studied the weather patterns for Ottawa in December as part of their months-long preparation.

The NHL's Derek King said ideal ice-making conditions are pretty similar to Ottawa's Monday weather: mostly cloudy and slightly below 0 C. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

The NHL 100 Classic marks the first meeting of the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 19, 1917, It also commemorates Canada's 150th birthday.

TD Place's capacity has been expanded to around 32,000 people with the addition of temporary metal seats that were also used for the Grey Cup.

The NHL said Monday it expects the game to sell out. There were a few hundred tickets available as of Monday afternoon, mostly in the temporary east-end stands.

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, which owns the 67's, said when their outdoor game was announced that they hoped their $15 to $20 tickets would be attractive to families and draw around 15,000 people.