PEI

'It's going to be a huge challenge': A tale of two games

For the first time in its history, the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown will host a basketball and hockey game on the same day.

Eastlink Centre to host basketball and hockey game in the same day

The Island Storm agreed to move their start time up against the top-ranked London Lightning in order to accommodate the Islanders playoff game. (Island Storm)

The Island Storm and Charlottetown Islanders have shared the Eastlink Centre for the past four seasons.

On Saturday, they'll both play on the same day, just hours apart.

How do you go about converting the floor at the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown from a basketball court to a hockey rink on the same day?

According to Stu Dunn, the director of operations at the Eastlink Centre, one piece at a time.

"It's going to be a huge challenge for us," said Dunn. "We've met with everybody involved — with the Islanders and the Storm — and the staff of course, which is going to be in charge of doing it, and I think we can pull it off."

Given that a basketball game can last about two hours and 15 minutes and the average QMJHL playoff game lasts about two hours and 30 minutes, that doesn't leave much time.  

'They all know their role'

Arena staff will only have about three hours to prepare for the Islanders game against Cape Breton at 7:30 p.m. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Dunn says he will have his conversion crew on hand prior to the tip off of the Storm game. The moment the final buzzer sounds, his team will spring into action.

"We typically have 13 guys that come in to do it, and it's the same crew that comes in for every game," explained Dunn. "With their experience now, I'm quite comfortable with what they can do. We have forklift driver and 12 guys all going at the same time, and they all know their role, and we can save time anywhere that day, we definitely will."

'We'll have to make adjustments'

Every piece of equipment required to host a basketball game is stored in the trade centre at the Eastlink Centre. (Tom Steepe)

"We're one of the only facilities that has to forklift all the equipment outside the facility into the trade centre where everything is stored," explained Dunn. "That's going to be a challenge with people coming and going. We'll have to make adjustments to the parking lot with some barricades and security, parking, that sort of stuff." 

Chairs will have to removed, a score table, the baskets themselves and the arena will have to be cleaned.

The building will open an hour before the opening face off between the Islanders and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

Everything will have to be ready to go when fans start rolling in for the hockey game.

'Anything can happen at any time'

The conversion crew will be on hand an hour before the start of the Island Storm game to be ready to spring into action at the conclusion of the game. (Eastlink Centre)

"Anything could happen at any time, like we've had glass broken. Anything could pop up at any time with the facility when you're converting it. We did do some research with other facilities and what they did and some procedures, so we're confident in what we can do here."

Despite the challenge that's ahead for Dunn and his team, he's confident everything will go smoothly, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

"If it was our first year doing these conversions, maybe not. But, this is our fourth year now and the guys have shown that they can really can get the job done quickly, and we wouldn't be attempting it if we didn't think we could do it."

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