When Mike Henry opens his office door at USA Hockey Arena and glances down the hallway, he gets goosebumps.
The arena’s general manager couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of a two-year project USA Hockey recently completed.
After buying Compuware Arena in March 2015 and moving its National Team Development Program into the new facility, USA Hockey wanted to rebrand its venue and make it encompass all that USA Hockey stands for. USA Hockey had the concept of recreating the history of its storied organization on a wall down a long hallway between the arena’s main NHL-sized rink and its Olympic sheet of ice.
USA Hockey Arena's History Wall
“From Day one when we bought the building, this was the vision, this was the idea and when we broke into it, just so many different possibilities and ideas came through,” Henry said. “How to get the right thing and the right message out here. Two years in the making and we have this wonderful, beautiful wall here that sums up USA Hockey.”
The History Wall is broken into three sections:
Milestones — highlighting 18 important dates in USA Hockey history from the founding of the organization in 1937 to when USA Hockey purchased the arena.
Greatest Moments — centering in on nine signature moments going back to the 1960 Olympic men’s hockey team winning gold to 2008 when the U.S. National Women’s Under-18 Team won the inaugural IIHF world championship.
Characters of the Game — pinpointing 32 of the most influential figures in USA Hockey over the years, including coach Herb Brooks and players such as John Mayasich and Patrick Kane.
“We started out with the process of just looking and saying we wanted to do the history of USA Hockey and we realized that there’s just a lot of other elements such as the characters of the game that would be important to include in there,” said Mike Bertsch, assistant executive director, marketing and communications at USA Hockey. “Over that process, we gathered as much input as we could from a lot of people in USA Hockey about the important parts of USA Hockey — that being the history or that being the characters of the game or that being the milestones of the organization.”
From USA Hockey’s primary office in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Bertsch and Dave Fischer, senior director of communications at USA Hockey, headed the project and worked on detail and design. Henry was one of the point men at USA Hockey Arena along with Scott Monaghan, senior director of operations at the National Team Development Program. It was a collaborative effort that resulted in a masterpiece.
“It’s a great addition to the building,” Monaghan said. “It’s a big piece that moves us toward what our vision was, we wanted to make this a front porch of USA Hockey. And having the kind of historical breakdown that’s on that wall teaches people what USA Hockey’s all about.”
Great Moments Section of USA Hockey Arena's History Wall
It was a strenuous and highly detailed process to get all the specifics perfect. USA Hockey worked with Sports Graphics out of Indianapolis to map out the overall concept and Paragon Design + Display out of Detroit to mount the pieces.
USA Hockey wanted to make sure it had real pop to the wall with red, white and blue colors consistent throughout and eye-catching, 3-D graphics for fans.
“It’s really interesting to see somebody stop and learn something when they look at this and take a moment to think back of how we got to where we are today,” Henry said.
There are subtle details that can easily be overlooked but pack a lot of punch in the overall design of the project. Every piece on the wall is mounted via small gold pucks and the floor of the hallway is light blue to replicate the feel of being on a sheet of ice.
“Our objective was we wanted a ‘wow factor’ when you walk into the arena,” Bertsch said. “All arenas have some identity and so forth. We wanted this so that as soon as you walk into the arena you felt like you were a part of something unique.”
USA Hockey pulled some of its ideas for the wall from other hockey venues throughout country, including Ralph Engelstad Arena at the University of North Dakota, Munn Ice Arena at Michigan State and PPG Paints Arena, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins. USA Hockey got to sift through the best ideas and make it their own creation.
“I would say the biggest thing we learned from other people is have some versatility with it,” Bertsch said.
The organization was instructed to be flexible in the design to allow the addition of photos and the ability to change out images in the future. Bertsch said USA Hockey wants to keep the wall updated so it doesn’t become stale.
“We’re excited to showcase to fans visiting USA Hockey Arena the rich history of our organization,” said Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey. “It was an extensive project that took many months and I’d particularly like to thank Mike Bertsch who led the effort. It turned out fantastic.”
USA Hockey has already received plenty of great feedback on the project.
“Everyone that’s stopped and looked at it says it’s really brought this area together,” Henry said. “It’s brought that red, white and blue, that patriotism feeling. And to have the history right here of USA Hockey, it’s been great.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Milestones Section of USA Hockey Arena's History Wall