Monday, January 11, 2010

Ice In The Desert

Your intrepid Zamboni Driver is far away from the winter doldrums of Cincinnati - visiting my in-laws in Phoenix. The Coyotes played Saturday night, but I did not go. We stayed in and watched football instead. I know, it's bad. But we don't see the family often and my wierd outlook is that I hate the cheap noseblead seats but I'm too cheap to buy lower-bowl seats for NHL games.

We did go by their home arena - Arena. Probably the worst sponsored name in all of sports; but it is a beautiful building. We saw a game here a couple of years ago and it was awesome. They have the distinct advantage in the desert to build without the restrictions of surrounding buildings. When we went, there was nothing for miles around, just the arena and parking lots. Now the Cardinals' football stadium, University of Phoenix Stadium, sits next door and they are both surrounded with shops, condos, movie theatres, etc. It's actually in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, Arizona.

What amazed me when we came to the game was the refrigeration system. It's 70 degrees right now in January and gets much hotter in the spring and fall. We get really antsy when Cincinnati gets to 70 - and here that is a low temperature. When we were walking back to our car, I noticed this huge building behind the arena. At first I thought it was their offices, or something like that. But then I noticed heavily insulated pipes running from the building to the arena, over the loading dock area.

At US Bank Arena, the chiller facility or "ice plant" is in a room probably 15 x 40 feet, with cooling towers outside. But at arena, that building is the "Chiller House" all dedicated to the massive refrigeration system needed to keep ice in the desert. The cooling towers are including within the building, but it is all simply huge. Pretty wild. Here are some pics:

First, a view of the arena and chiller house together, to show the persepctive.

Now here is the back side of the arena itself. You can see the loading dock and the large insulated pipes carrying the chilled brine solution to the ice inside the arena.

Finally, here is the chiller house. You can see the cooling towers inside the fence. The back 2/3 of the building contains the compressors, etc.

Finally, to prove I can laugh at myself, here is a picture of my hand with the Jumping Cactus impaled on my fingers. Stupid midwesterner! 20 barbs in three fingers. It's like getting 10 strikes with a Taser.


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