Custom Steam Units Bring the Heat to Milwaukee Arena
These days, all eyes are on downtown Milwaukee, location of the new $524 million Fiserv Forum. The multipurpose arena is home to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and the Marquette University Golden Eagles men’s basketball team. The 714,000-square-foot facility is not only the city’s new central hub for sports and entertainment, it is expected to serve as an anchor and catalyst for Milwaukee’s downtown district.
The owners of the arena had lofty goals for the multipurpose venue. As designs and blueprints for the 17,500-person-capacity facility were being drafted, the Milwaukee Bucks reached out to A.O. Smith Corp. to handle the facility’s hot water needs.
To address the majority of the arena’s hot water needs, the architect’s plans called for two custom-manufactured, truck-sized stainless steel steam units weighing 6,100 pounds each as well as 19 additional standard water heater tanks to handle the concession areas at the outskirts of the building.
“There are very few manufacturers who would be able to deliver on an order like this,” said Peter Bibby, a representative from Soderholm and Associates. “Because of A.O. Smith’s nimbleness, they were able to quickly understand and address the Milwaukee Bucks’ needs.”
Start to finish, it took A.O. Smith 12 weeks to manufacture the two custom 120-by-72-inch steam units, which have the capacity to push out 2,000 gallons of hot water at 140ºF each hour, or approximately 50 times that of an average residential water heater tank. And, ultimately, given the enormity of the steam units, the architect altered the size of the doors to the utility room where the units are housed.
“This was hardly a standard installation,” said Bibby. “It takes a lot of know-how, skill, and organization for a plumber to handle a job of this size and scope. It was impressive for Hooper Corp. to make it happen seamlessly and as quickly as they did.”
Additionally, installation of the units at the arena required a few additional steps because all the water heating units are integrated into the building’s smart integrated controls system, which will trigger an immediate text message to the arena’s operations team should the water temperature in the tanks ever drop below a recommended value.
Hooper Corp.’s Ryan Friedrich said he was pleased to have been part of such a momentous project and credits A.O. Smith’s products and the teamwork of all involved.
“It was such a pleasure to work with Peter Bibby and A.O. Smith on this project,” said Friedrich. “Because of their know-how and professionalism, the project went really, really well. We were able to get all the units in place and hooked up with no major issues, which is quite impressive, given the scope of the project.”
The Milwaukee Bucks’ director of facilities, Todd Gamster, who started in his role midway through the arena’s construction, echoed the sentiment. While Gamster wasn’t around when the facility’s blueprints were drawn up, as a former plumber, he was thrilled to see that A.O. Smith had been specifically sought out to address the arena’s hot water needs.
“Knowing that we have a reputable company representing our hot water needs is a great thing,” said Gamster. “I can breathe easier knowing that they don’t have to worry about the arena’s hot water, which is critical to our operation’s success. These A.O. Smith units are about as close to maintenance-free as you can get.”
The A.O. Smith steam units and tanks in place at the Fiserv Forum are expected to provide a nearly endless hot water supply for the restrooms, kitchens, concession areas, and team locker rooms, where the showers are nearly 2 feet taller than those in an average home.
“Make no mistake, the products and the technology in this arena are state-of-the art,” said Gamster. “We’ve truly set the standard here for what other facilities around the globe will be aiming for in future years. To me, as a former plumber, it’s a given that A.O. Smith is part of the mix.”