Charly Haley, Published November 25 2012
It's My Job: Scheels Arena director lives a life on the ice
As facility director at Scheels Arena, Vander Velde is responsible for a variety of tasks that keep the building operating and ready for events.
What do you do as facility director here?
“Basically, what it entails is all the building operations. Hiring, staffing the facility, keeping it running right, equipment-wise and ice-wise. So breaking it down, it’s mainly being in charge of the parking crews outside, the cleaning crews inside, the ice resurfacers, keeping that staffed. Also, the building equipment – keeping that in order. Keeping the building running up to speed the way it needs to be. Outside of that, it’s a manager position, so supervising, but it’s supervising where you’re involved with the work.”
Are there any challenges to the job?
“Keeping this facility very high-end. You see a lot of youth arenas where it’s just hockey, but we have a lot of other events out here, too. So the biggest challenge is balancing hockey, having a good sheet of ice and keeping the customers – the renters – happy. Also, keeping the building looking like a high-end multi-purpose arena while staying in the budget.”
Can you tell me about the hockey side of things?
“With the ice side of things, it’s a lot different here, because we have a ton of rentals. We have the Fargo Force, who are here during the day. We have the high school team at Davies call this their home sheet of ice.
“So we have ice that we want to be able to show on TV, live broadcast, while still providing ice for youth rentals and things like that. It goes into an around-the-clock thing, keeping the resurfacer ready to go every day – we’ll have rentals all the way to 11 at night sometimes.
“What the resurfacer does is we go out there, the ice is chopped up by skates, so while resurfacing you’re basically shaving off the top layer of ice while putting the new layer on.
“With what the surface is made out of, it’s only about three-fourths of an inch of ice out there. It’s concrete floor, and the process is basically laying a base layer of just ice, and then … you hand-paint everything out there, the creases and all of the blue lines and red lines and circles, that’s all hand-painted out there. You mark out your markings and you hand-paint it.
Some rinks will use paints for all their logos too, where we use a mesh fabric. That’s what that big Force logo is. It’s frozen in.”
How do you paint it?
“It’s with a horsehair brush. It looks like what you’d paint the side of your house with. It’s not like slapping paint on a house though; you use a little more precision. You make your markings and then it’s just a matter of following the lines. And if you do have any imperfections, once we get the ice in there on it, you can’t tell.”
What is your favorite part of the job?
“I love being in a position of sports. That’s why we put in the time. I love what I do, putting on events.
“It’s not even a matter of if it’s hockey or if it’s a Wiz Khalifa concert like we had – any type of event, if you pull it off successfully and you see the people come in and leave happy because of what you did, and you see your staff work on what you trained them to do, it’s a success. You walk away happy after that. That’s why we love it so much. You get to work with fun events and be around sports all the time.
“It’s a lot of hours, and it’s a lot of work, but it’s well worth it. That, and I love working with the ice, too. I just think it’s a neat thing that not many people can say they do.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311