Fenway goes to extremes to fill event calendar by staging Crashed Ice
What did it take to put Fenway Park on ice?
For six weeks, crews worked to transform the historic ballpark into a frozen course for Red Bull’s Crashed Ice extreme downhill skating event, which was held Feb. 8 and 9.
“This required a ton of engineering and time to construct the ramp, 9,000 pieces of steel,” said Mark Lev, president of Fenway Sports Management.
Crews turned 124,000 gallons of water into ice for the 2,000-foot race track. Ironically, they also had to haul out 10,000 cubic feet of snow after a storm.
The configuration at Fenway included 2,000 trackside spots to watch the skaters race. The track and fan areas required 107,000 square feet of temporary flooring to protect the field. It took 16 semi trucks and a crew of 54 workers just to deliver and install that aluminum flooring.
Lev said it was not until the seven-story frozen track took shape, and fans could see it for themselves, that interest in the event galvanized. It was the same in February 2016, when a 15-story ramp was built at Fenway for a Big Air ski jumping event.
“I think the event this time proved to be the same; as the track took shape it really spiked interest,” he said.
Lev said just under 23,000 fans attended the Red Bull-produced event over the two days. Previous estimates had hoped for 25,000 fans. He said fan interest had to wait until the afterglow of the Patriots’ Super Bowl win wore off.
“The fact the Super Bowl was going on the week before probably had an impact and stole some share of mind from people. It was a couple days after that we unveiled the track and really got people’s attention,” Lev said.
Red Bull was responsible for building the track, but Fenway Sports Management would not disclose the financial arrangement for the event, including its investment.
Crashed Ice is another example of Fenway’s efforts to build out its event calendar beyond Red Sox baseball games. Fenway has played host to outdoor hockey games and football games, and also holds eight to 12 concerts per year.
“Our hope is it’s something we would bring back in the next two to three years,” Lev said.
Crews are now breaking down the Crashed Ice course, a process that goes much more quickly.
“I’m sort of amazed,” Lev said. “It takes six weeks to set it up and they take it down in two weeks to a week and a half.”
Mike Sunnucks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.