Workers Brave Cold, Install Steel at Harborcenter

January 21, 2014 Updated Jan 21, 2014 at 1:26 PM EDT

By WKBW News

January 21, 2014 Updated Jan 21, 2014 at 1:26 PM EDT

BUFFALO (WKBW) Another construction milestone at HARBORcenter in Downtown Buffalo just happened to coincide with one of the coldest days of winter in Western New York.

The first structural steel beam was raised up by one of the massive cranes. Workers then guided the beam down, and after a little TLC with a sledge hammer, it was secured into the concrete pillars.

"This is the floor that the two ice sheets are going to go on. The south sheet which is the arena sheet and the north ice sheet as well," project superintendent Ryan Poropat said.

"Now the steel's coming, because that's what we need to hold these two rinks up. They're pretty heavy," Sabres Chief Development Officer added.

But crews working outside on a day like Tuesday have to deal with much more than some stubborn steel. Temps in the single digits and below zero wind chills make the construction life a lot more difficult.

"We have a lot of areas in the building where we have temporary heat on, warming areas for the guys. Outside of that making sure that we can coordinate work as much as we can on the inside of the building. Obviously the trades you see behind me are going to be exposed to the elements, so working just the standard 8 hours, making sure we get them as many breaks as we can," Poropat explained.

Officials say the project is approximately 40 percent complete, and is "just about" on schedule for an opening of the rinks this fall.