Home  » Industrial Infrared Heaters » Case Studies After consecutive 3-8 and 1-10 records, it was time for the University of Minnesota "Gophers" to do something to improve their prospects before the next football season.

First on the agenda was hiring a new coach. The University hired Lou Holtz from the University of Arkansas Fayetteville. Aware of Minnesota's cold and unpredictable weather, Holtz convinced the University administration that the team needed an indoor practice facility.Football Field Heater

His efforts yielded a 75,000 sq-ft, metal-enclosed, two-story structure supplied by Chief Industries Building Division, Grand Island, NB.

The indoor facility was designed with a 194 ft. x 384 ft. clearspan, 57 ft. high at the peak. RSTP-17 radiant gas tube heaters, each with 175,000 Btu/hr capacity, from the Space-Ray division of Gas-Fired Products, Charlotte, NC, are mounted horizontally on trusses, approximately 45 ft. from the outside walls on either side of the V-shaped roof and 32 ft. from the floor. There are six on each side, evenly spaced throughout the 194 ft. long facility.

Axel Newman Heating and Plumbing, one of the Newman Companies of St. Paul, MN, was the mechanical contractor on the job. The contractor specified the infrared heaters and purchased them from Associated Representatives, Inc., Bloomington, MN.

According to Richard J. Cowan, vice president of Associated Representatives, the practice facility is one of, if not the only, indoor football facility in the U.S. with radiant gas tube heaters.

Although most of the university was heated by a central steam plant, the location of the new facility made it impractical and uneconomical to link it to that facility. As an alternative, the radiant gas tube heaters were chosen.

A hot water boiler system was installed to heat other parts of the new sports complex which, in addition to the practice field, includes a two-story structure with full basement for offices, locker rooms, a sauna, steam room, and weight-lifting facility.

Construction on the building began in May, 1984, and was completed by the end of September, in time for the Big Ten season.

For insulation, 6 in. blankets on the roof and 4 in. vinyl - reinforced blankets on the sidewalls provide an R-value of 20 and 9, respectively.

Because the structure does not incorporate skylights or windows, a sophisticated ventilation system also was included.

The Space-Ray heaters were mounted on trusses approximately 45 ft. from the outside walls on either side of the V-shaped roof, 32 ft. from the floor. They were mounted horizontally, six on each side, evenly spaced throughout the 194 ft. long practice field.

Each heater is protected by wire mesh fastened to it and secured to the truss. Each series of heaters also has its own thermostatic controls to produce an environment up to 68°F.

According to Bruce Lothson, project manager for Axel Newman, Space-Ray was specified because of price, and also for installation ease, because the heaters were pre-assembled by the manufacturer.

Lothson said that, for the first month, the university heated the facility 24 hours a day at a constant 68°F.

"This proved impractical as well as expensive because the facility was not used all day," Lothson said. "Instead, two hours before practice the heaters are turned up to produce the desired temperature."

Holger Christiansen, athletic field coordinator, said coaches and players were extremely pleased with the facility and the heated environment.

"Heaters now are set at 40°F during the winter, which is comfortable for winter- conditioning drills," Christiansen said.

The team's record for the next season improved to 4 - 7.