Calsonic Arena opened in 1992 and has proven to be one of the most equestrian friendly facilities in the Southeast. Surveys of event sponsors and coordinators consistently tell us that the facility and support staff available to them contributes significantly to the success of their event and they rate us first class.

One area of concern which repeatedly surfaces in the summer months, however, is how warm the facility gets as the heat and humidity build up on hot summer days. This is an issue that The Celebration Board of Directors has researched and studied on several occasions. Unfortunately, there appears to be no easy, economical solution.

Many will recall that when the facility first opened there were 12 large exhaust fans installed on the roof. The unrestricted air flow of these five horsepower fans seemed to help stir the air and at least give a sense of cooler air circulating throughout the building. There was a major problem, however. Sunlight shining in through the fan louvers caused shadows to appear on the arena floor, which in turn spooked the horses as they rode by. Ultimately, large “dog houses” had to be built over each fan to eliminate the shadows, thus reducing the amount of air each fan can circulate.

Event sponsors, exhibitors, and spectators have repeatedly asked, “why don’t you air-condition the arena, others like the state-owned Miller Arena in Murfreesboro is going to be air-conditioned when it opens?” The answer of course, is money . . . not necessarily the $750,000 initially required to purchase and install the equipment, but the monthly cost to operate and maintain the equipment once it is in place.

A recent in-depth study was conducted by a mechanical engineer to determine the size of the equipment needed and the estimated operating cost. According to his report, the main arena area will require 400 tons of air-conditioning while the warm-up arena will require 75 tons. The design conditions are to lower the indoor temperature from 95 degrees outside to 80 degrees inside with 4,500 people in the arena. And although many of the events in the arena don’t attract 4,500 people in the arena. And although many of the events in the arena don’t attract 4,500 people, the heat generated by hundreds of working horses must be conditioned and cooled by the system. In addition, significant upgrades to the building’s electrical system will be required to accommodate this much increase in electrical load. The engineer estimated an installed equipment cost of around $700,000 to $750,000.

Of primary concern to The Celebration is the on-going cost to operate and maintain the system on a monthly basis. According to the engineer’s calculations, this cost could be expected to be $15,000 to $25,000 per month, depending on how many hours the building is cooled each month.

Unlike facilities like Miller Arena in Murfreesboro or other state or government owned and operated facilities that rely on state tax dollars to pay their monthly utility bills, Calsonic Arena has to generate enough revenue from the organizations or events which use the facility to pay these on-going charges. That being the case, it goes without saying that rental fees for Calsonic would have to escalate so high that few events could afford to use and air-condition the facility and still make their event feasible.

This is definitely an issue of concern for The Celebration. We realize that soon we will be competing with other facilities for the events held in indoor arenas like ours. But we must also be realistic as to the economics and feasibility of equipment we can afford to own and operate.

Please be assured that we will continue to study and monitor this issue. Perhaps technological advancements in the future will change how we might approach cooling the facility in the summer. But most importantly, know that The Celebration listens and reacts to your concerns and suggestions. Continue to let us hear from you with your suggestions and constructive criticism.