USA TODAY US Edition

Di­a­mond­backs prove to be ex­perts at keep­ing heat at bay

- By Mike Dodd USA TO­DAY

PHOENIX — At first blush, the thought of putting base­ball’s All-Star Game in Phoenix was as risky as a Su­per Bowl in Green Bay, and the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs needed a lengthy lob­by­ing cam­paign to land it.

It’s hot. It’s the mon­soon sea­son, when the hu­mid­ity rises to about 30%. But both at Chase Field and in down­town Phoenix this week, the tripledigi­t tem­per­a­tures seem man­age­able, thanks to tech­nol­ogy and an as­sist from or­ga­niz­ers.

“The big­gest concern was the heat, and we had to as­sure ev­ery­body that we do it ev­ery year and that ev­ery­body’s fine,” said Der­rick Hall, Di­a­mond­backs pres­i­dent. “Hav­ing the lux­ury of hav­ing a re­tractable roof, a nice cool­ing sys­tem and mak­ing sure we kept all the fes­tiv­i­ties within close prox­im­ity, we knew we’d be fine.”

Chase Field, which opened in 1998, was the first re­tractable-roof sta­dium with a nat­u­ral-grass play­ing sur­face, which means the roof must be open reg­u­larly for sun. Typ­i­cally, it is opened ev­ery morn­ing at sun­rise and closed about three hours be­fore game-time to cool the park to about 78 de­grees.

This week, how­ever, the roof has re­mained closed since Sun­day morn­ing to ac­com­mo­date re­hearsals and other All-Star ac­tiv­i­ties. And that made cool­ing it for Tues­day night’s game eas­ier.

“Nor­mally we don’t have the roof closed for two or three days. We’d love to keep it closed and keep the air­con­di­tion­ing run­ning,” said Jim White, Di­a­mond­backs di­rec­tor of en­gi­neer­ing, who doesn’t have to worry about the grass or pay­ing the elec­tric bill.

The 8,000-ton cool­ing sys­tem — the equiv­a­lent of cool­ing 2,500 homes of 2,000 square feet — uses chilled wa­ter and is part of the sys­tem that serves more than 30 down­town build­ings. The plant, a sep­a­rate build­ing, is just out­side the ball­park.

Tues­day night, White ex­pected the tem­per­a­ture on the field to be 72-74 de­grees, about 4 de­grees cooler than nor­mal. (The tem­per­a­ture in­side at first pitch was, in fact, 72 de­grees com­pared with 99 out­side). When the roof is open in the morn­ing, he said, the steel and con­crete “act as sponges” for the heat, and ball­park tem­per­a­tures can’t be re­duced that much in three to four hours.

Open­ing and clos­ing the roof takes 4½ min­utes and costs $2-$3. It is done with two 200-horse­power mo­tors trig­gered from the en­gi­neer’s con­trol room in left-cen­ter field of the up­per deck. It was last opened for a game June 17.

“The cold­est I’ve been in Phoenix in Au­gust is at Chase Field,” said Scott Dunn, as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the Greater Phoenix Con­ven­tion & Vis­i­tors Bu­reau, adding the crowd was sparse that night. “I sat there and shiv­ered.”

Or­ga­niz­ers caught a break this week — the highs of 100-101 de­grees are about 7 de­grees be­low nor­mal. And they also dodged the freak dust storm that blanketed the city with dirt just a week be­fore game night.

“Ma­jor League Base­ball pan­icked. They called us and said, ‘What is that thing?’ ” said Hall, who as­sured the com­mis­sioner’s of­fice it was a fluke. “I’d never even heard the term ‘ha­boob.’ I did panic be­cause I knew we’d have to do a ma­jor clean­ing all around the prop­erty.”

For­tu­nately, he added, the club was able to close the roof be­fore the storm hit down­town.

 ?? By Robert Hanashiro, USA TO­DAY ?? Keep­ing cool: Julie De Anda hands out wa­ter in Phoenix, where the high tem­per­a­tures of 100-101 degrees this week are ac­tu­ally about 7 degrees be­low nor­mal.
By Robert Hanashiro, USA TO­DAY Keep­ing cool: Julie De Anda hands out wa­ter in Phoenix, where the high tem­per­a­tures of 100-101 degrees this week are ac­tu­ally about 7 degrees be­low nor­mal.

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