Hearing "Striiiiike three!" called, eating hot dogs and popcorn, listening to the crack of the bat, and participating in the seventh inning stretch--all are important facets of the major league baseball experience. As fans are on their way home, they rarely think about what happens after the ninth inning has ended. That's when the players head straight to the locker rooms for showers--preferably hot showers.
Spring 2001 marked a new era for the Chicago Cubs, but not necessarily because of the team's stellar performances and league-leading statistics. A Lochinvar lntelli-Fin water heater was installed in the locker rooms to meet the hot water demand for the 40 players and coaches taking showers at the same time.
Originally built in 1914, Wrigley Field is the second-oldest ballpark in the major leagues behind Boston's Fenway Park. It has been the site of many historic moments, including Babe Ruth's "called shot" when Ruth allegedly pointed to a bleacher location and then hit the next pitch for a homer, and Pete Rose's 4,191st career hit, tying him with Ty Cobb for the most hits in baseball history.
Throughout the 1990s, Wrigley Field was the site of numerous construction and renovation projects. Construction designs included adding private boxes on the mezzanine level; adding a press box, broadcasting booths and food court in the upper deck; and renovating the visitors' clubhouse and the Stadium Club. Lochinvar water heaters were installed in the visitors' clubhouse and the Stadium Club in 1995.
As the 2000 season ended, Paul Rathje, director of stadium operations, knew he needed to replace the locker room water heater. The existing gas-fired water heater had failed repeatedly throughout the 2000 season.
Rathje realized the specification requirements for the new water heating system would be hard to meet. The physical space for the water heater was small and the new system had to be reliable. Players taking cold showers was not an option.
"The Lochinvar Intelli-Fin water heater met all three major requirements. It provided enough hot water for the showers, the tank fit under the stadium ceiling, and the flue system was able to be vented out to the stadium wall," explained Rathje.
With incoming water temperatures of 37 degrees F, the old water heater could not keep up with the load. To help meet the demand, heated water was being stored at 200 degrees F. Lochinvar district sales managers Rick Butler and Marco Spallasso recommended the installation of the Intelli-Fin (IWN1500) with a RGA250 tank. The tank was specially built to fit under the pitch of the stadium ceiling. This combination provides nearly 2,000 gallons of hot water within the first hour. Plus the Intelli-Fin operates at 1,500 degrees F and at a thermal efficiency rating of up to 97%.
Another challenge was the replacement of the old flue system. The previous heater was vented with a power venter and B-vent flue material, and the old flue, installed near a walkway and some of the food vending areas, was visible to the public. The new flue system had to be vented 100 feet out to the stadium wall. The positive pressure Intelli-Fin, with its multiple venting options, provided the solution.
Gas pressure was another concern with the specification. At times, the gas pressure at Wrigley Field has dropped to less than 5" of water column. The Intelli-Fin can operate with a minimum inlet gas pressure as low as 4" of water column, preventing nuisance operational problems in areas of varying gas supply pressures.