Jan 7, 2008

Hot and cold in San Jose

Interesting blog post about HP Pavilion in San Jose re: finding the optimum temperature for happy fans and great ice. How do you balance fan comfort, while at the same time making it cold enough for optimal ice conditions? Some excerpts from the post:

The HP Pavilion ice is less than ideal under normal conditions and does indeed get slushier when the rains arrive. It’s a sensitive issue among Sharks management, in part because no one wants to reflect badly — me included — on the crew in charge of maintaining the ice. There are architectural design issues that contribute to the problem (the docking area behind the building lets in the outside air right where the Zambonis enter the rink so there’s an unfortunate natural flow) . And, like most NHL buildings these days, it doesn’t help that there are so many non-hockey events scheduled.

Anyway, I wrote about all that about four years ago and since then the Sharks have done things to improve the situation, primarily the installation of a variable speed dehumidifying system that adjusts the air flow to weather conditions.

But one particularly touchy issue remains: The temperature inside the building.

Many players and some fans believe that the ice conditions would improve if the Sharks were willing to turn the thermostat down. Management is concerned about the complaints from other fans that it was too cold inside and they were no longer comfortable.

I talked with Rich Sotello, the vice-president for building operations, about that. Here’s what he had to say.

“We like to run a constant temperature because guests that come into the building are used to a certain thing and obviously the president (Greg Jamison) is very much in tune with what fans want,” Sotello said.

He added that “the colder it is, the better it is, is not necessarily true” when it comes to ambient air and ice. At some point, he said, “there is a point of diminishing returns.”

Read the entire post (and check out all the comments from fans too)...

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