The Ice Hockey World Cup in Denmark became a success in many ways - both from sports and public perspective. A team led by Thomas Holm, Head of Sports Events at DB Schenker in Denmark, Sweden and Iceland, played a major role in the successful event.
His team was in charge of making sure that the 4,000 pucks were in place before the matches and that there was power to the TV commentators’ microphones.
Ice hockey is not the biggest sport in Denmark, but it is on the rise, and the Ice Hockey World Cup would certainly be the biggest event ever held in Denmark. It is estimated that 1.3 billion people could see the broadcasts and before the tournament even started, they had already sold 300,000 tickets. For Thomas and the team the Ice Hockey World Cup started already in February last year.
“It was then that we received an inquiry from the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) about what services we could offer them during the tournament.”
IIHF wants as few partners as possible and would like to see that their suppliers provide as many services as possible.
“In addition to transportation, we were able to offer storage and, together with our event partner, build media stands and media centres inside the arenas, as well as an office zone and an area for the television companies’ broadcast buses and broadcasting lines outside the arena.”
All television companies need their own office with different equipment requirements.
“We built over 700 square meters of temporary offices for television companies and partners, and made sure everyone received as many tables and chairs as they wanted, that they had power to work and backup power in case something went wrong.”
The transformation of the two arenas happen within two week
The work on getting the arenas in Herning and Copenhagen ready began two weeks before the first launch. Transforming Royal Arena and Jyske Bank Boxen into two state-of-the-art ice hockey arenas before the World Cup requires knowledge and plenty of experience. Royal Arena in Copenhagen is just one year old, and has naturally limited experience with sports events. There is nothing on one of its short sides because it is intended for building different stages for concerts and performances. It does not have changing rooms for the ice hockey teams - and, of course, there was no ice.
“When we came to Royal Arena, it was just an empty shell. It was fascinating to see how it gradually transformed from a concert hall where British singer Sam Smith appeared just a few days before we got access to the stadium into a hockey arena,” says Thomas.
One of the major challenges is putting all technical installations in place such as power supply, networks, telephone lines and fibre-optic cables. In addition, the media centre and stands with a capacity for over 300 journalists have to be built allowing for the best possible world press coverage of the event.
“No arena has room for so many journalists, so we had to build the seats from scratch. Everything is custom-made. The chair seats, for example, are three centimetres higher than normal so that journalists would be able to see better. It is small details that make a big difference,” says Stephan Sandler, who was responsible for building the media centre and partnered with DB Schenker during the event.
Stephan has experience from several giant events all over the world, including several Olympic Games and Champions League matches, and has been working with DB Schenker for more than ten years. Before the Ice Hockey World Cup, he brought 22.5 km of cables which he and the team drew into the arenas.
“You can only trust real cables. Wi-Fi is far too uncertain and we cannot risk its not working smoothly.”
In Copenhagen, the team made a large hole in a concrete wall to draw the cables to the centre. “We had to do it. The door we intended to use was a fire door, which could not be left open.”
Everyday offers urgent tasks and unforeseen challenges
In addition to the technical installations, DB Schenker also has more classic tasks on its agenda such as coordination of public transport tasks, transport of machinery and equipment for teams and equipment storage.
The mere dealing with arriving trucks is a challenge per se. They had slots, but it is enough for someone to come a little late or early to ruin the schedule.
“Outside the arena in Copenhagen there are no place for trucks to pass. The worst time was when five trucks were in line and one of them was even double-parked, which made it difficult for other road users to get through. You just have to go with the flow because stressing about it does not solve the problem,” says Thomas.
To get the best flow around the arena so that trucks had somewhere to go instead of double park on the street, Thomas made sure that twenty bicycle racks were removed.
“Because of the bicycle stands the trucks were unable to drive around the arena. There are many special solutions and that is what makes it so exciting to work with events. However, given that we have plenty of experience from several major sports events, we also know that nothing is impossible,” says Thomas.
Since it was an ongoing construction project, we could never know exactly how to get in or out of the arena. You could drive a truck an hour earlier somewhere and all of a sudden there could be something standing in your way, or a pipe fitter might have drawn a pipe for the ice coolant.
“Such events are a challenge for everyone involved. You have to be prepared for everything. At one point, there was suddenly a need for a 10-ton lorry and the fastest solution was for me to call a local partner five kilometres away. He simply jumped into the lorry and drove it to Royal Arena.”
Another thing that came up was that Thomas needed to find ten trucks to transport interior fixtures for the temporary changing rooms. What is more, it was the Friday one week before the launch, which is a public holiday in Denmark.
“It is not easy to find ten cars with drivers who want to work on a holiday, but things worked out. The different teams transported their equipment to Denmark themselves, but DB Schenker picked up most of the equipment at the airport and drove it to the various locations.
Ice hockey equipment is quite bulky and it is hard to get everything in a bus. So when the teams were about to go home, we also picked up the things and delivered them to the airport.”
Besides the teams’ equipment, the media centre, the media stands etc., DB Schenker delivered 3,900 pucks to the arenas to be used in the group game and during training. Another 100 pucks were delivered for the final game.
“For some reason, the pucks are stored in a freezer before being used and we also had to deliver the freezers.”
Even the colour used to freeze Skoda's logo in the ice was shipped by DB Schenker, as well as all plaquettes for "Player of the Match" and the silver and bronze medals.
“Everything needed in a hockey arena has gone through us - the rink, the goals, the ice machines - just everything. There was nothing here before.”
It takes hard workbefore, during and after to make logistics work at a big international event
Thomas' phone rang all the time both before and during the Ice Hockey World Cup, and the step counter showed that at least half a marathon every day. "The phone calls was all about solving things like other carriers being unable to do like returning packaging from the arena to our facility in Hvidovre. It was mainly about special packaging that the equipment would be packed in when everything was over. Several hundred cubic metres filled our warehouse in Hvidovre.
“The equipment is bigger than you think. In the days before the launch, between two and four trucks full of packaging left the arena every day.”
As the gold medals are awarded on May 20, Thomas, Stefan and the team began to tear apart what they had built.
“We only had four days as Danish TV would use the arena for Prince Frederik of Denmark's 50th birthday. But it went well, too,” says Thomas,: “The Danish Sport Events Team worked tirelessly 24/7 up to the event, making sure that there were no loose ends by creating backup plans and secondary backup plans for all possible things and scenarios that could go wrong. We would not have been able to run the logistics at an Ice Hockey”