The latest round of upgrades at Bridgestone Arena include the first major improvements to the 15-year-old building's HVAC system and a new premium seating concept.
A $6 million environmental systems upgrade — funded largely though a federal program for utility improvements in civic buildings — will add new chilling and dehumidifying systems to the arena, which Predators COO and President Sean Henry said will keep the arena NHL-compliant while improving fan and player comfort and ultimately saving money.
Because the arena was not designed with hockey in mind, maintaining proper temperature and humidity for optimal ice conditions is challenging, especially as the playoffs push the schedule into the late spring. The team has been renting large, external dehumidifiers to regulate conditions. That equipment costs between $200,000 and $300,000 monthly to rent.
The new system — which essentially adds a second level of chilling and dehumidifying to the current system — will eliminate the need for that extra equipment.
In addition, other improvements will allow better control of other utilities. Currently, the lighting and HVAC systems are binary — by and large, all the lights are on or they are off with very little control below the whole-building level. Henry says after the current round of upgrades, the systems will be more tightly controlled making for more efficient use of power.
Also underway at 501 Broadway: the construction of the 501 Club, a new premium-seating concept. The 80- to 90-seat suite will open the all-inclusive, high-end suite amenities to single users. Currently, companies or individuals must rent an entire suite. At the 501 Club, single seats will be available — priced between $15,000 and $17,000 annually. The seats can then be used for all 41 Predators home dates as well as all other events at the arena.
The last element of the latest round of updates is a new, in-building training facility for players by converting an existing storage space adjacent to the players' weight room. The space will include synthetic, plastic "ice" to practice face-offs and shooting, as well as space for the traditional pre-game soccer kickaround and table tennis games. Henry says the facility will be "unique in the league."