The NHL reached out to Hotopp about the Winter Classic in the spring. Not only is the company based in Seattle, it has worked at NHL events before, and with the Kraken since they joined the league as an expansion team in 2021-22. Wychanski and his team knew the scene.
“They did a lot of visualization based on all the assets we gave them, and they came back with the set pieces you see here,” Conway said.
Hotopp had talked to the Kraken about using the shipwreck in some form in the past but never did so, so Wichansky pitched the idea to NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer.
“He was like, 'Oh, yeah, that's cool,'” Wychanski said. “And then it just became a matter of knowing technically how to do it, and where to put it.”
A baseball stadium has more empty space to fill than a football field, and the first row of bleachers is particularly high in left field and center field at T-Mobile Park. This means that the NHL can place objects on the field that can stand taller than normal without affecting sight lines.
“We do line-of-sight studies throughout the entire field design, usually maxing out at about 4 or 5 feet,” said Greg Mueller, NHL vice president of creative services. “This creates that opportunity to build bigger.”
The TNT group will turn left and disguise itself as a boat house. The shipwreck will go to the center. Wichansky and about half his staff have a background in theatrical set design, and they teamed up with the Seattle Shakespeare Company to do just that.
“Beer enthusiast. Subtly charming alcohol junkie. Wannabe internet buff. Typical pop culture lover.”