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An Applications Case History
Alamodome Depends on Current Technology for
"Command Performance" of Electrical Systems
As streams of satisfied Paul McCartney fans poured out of San Antonio’s new Alamodome near midnight on May 29, 1993, few of them would have classified the legendary ex-Beatle’s concert as routine. But for electrical contractors and facilities engineers at the vast state-of-the art arena, it was. And that’s just what they had been hoping for. McCartney’s concert was the first major event held at the architecturally striking Alamodome.

Built over a three-year period at a cost of more than $180 million, the Dome is the largest public arena in the rapidly growing, densely populated San Antonio area. With a fixed-seating capacity of 65,000 and alternate seating configurations for 10,000 to 73,200, the Alamodome is well-equipped to host practically any event imaginable. Two built-in Olympic-size ice sheets are on hand for hockey games and skating performances. More than 30,000 square feet of meeting space and 160,000 square feet of exhibition area welcome trade show and exhibit conventioneers. The official home of the San Antonio Spurs NBA basketball team, the Alamodome is just steps away from the waterfront hotels, restaurants, galleries and shops that line the city’s well-known Riverwalk.

Stringent Requirements

Proper construction of such a large facility calls for careful planning. To ensure that all electrically driven systems would operate on command without interruption, the Alamodome’s electrical design firm, Marmon MOK, established a set of criteria which would be used to determine the best power protection for the structure. Engineer David Remerschied of Marmon MOD called on Steve McKim from the San Antonio offices of Tubbesing Sales Corp. (TSC) for advice.

With offices in Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, TSC has been a factory-trained representative for Current Technology power conditioning and distribution products since 1983. "David outlined what each electrical service entrance would require," McKim recalls. "They wanted power conditioning equipment with high energy handling characteristics, rugged design which would ensure dependability over the life of the system, fused protection, easy testing and low maintenance. Also important was the ability to interface with "add on" power conditioning components if additional protection was required downstream. "Current Technology had the optimal products to meet the stringent requirements of this facility," says McKim.

Quality Power Protection

"During the design process, a number of factors led us to determine that high quality power protection was mandatory for the "Dome." Remerscheid recalls. "For one thing, the utility company’s substation is less than a mile from the arena, which increases the likelihood and magnitude of switching transients imposed on the building’s electrical systems. "Also, probability and magnitude of internally generated transients were a concern due to the size of the individual motors and other loads connected to the system," Remerscheid remembers.

Remerscheid and McKim also took the structural design and geographic location into consideration. "To provide unique column-free spans, four 350-foot towers and a cable support system suspend the Alamodome’s nine-acre roof," explains Remerscheid. "We knew that this increased the likelihood of lightning strikes since the San Antonio area is a thunderstorm-prone region. Although the ‘Dome’ is equipped with a structural lighting protection system, we agreed that additional protection was required to dissipate the destructive forces of lightning that could damage the electrical system."

From a life-safety standpoint, protection of the computer-driven fire alarm and smoke control system was essential, as was continuity of electrical service that runs the computer-based lightning controls, scoreboards, telecommunications and HVAC control systems. "Electrical service to the building is at 13,200 volts, which serves a double-ended substation located in each building quadrant," explains Remerscheid. "Because the substations are arranged in main-tie-main configurations, we installed two Current Technology MP Series Power Siftorsâ at each of the ‘Dome’s four electrical service entrances.

Part of Current technology’s expandable network of MasterPLANâ facility-wide power conditioning and distribution products, MP Series models feature a high performance suppression system which provides superior bi-directional, bi-polar power conditioning and are specifically designed for high-exposure installations. Engineered with exclusive seamless technology, which integrates various combinations of suppression and filtration components to provide maximum performance and greatly extended product life, all MasterPLAN products are U.S.-manufactured, UL and CSA approved and protected by Current technology’s Five Year Limited Warranty.

"Doing Their Job"

Official opening day at the Alamodome was May 15, 1993. "It went without a hitch," says Seb Cennamo, Alamodome facilities engineer. "Two weeks later we had the Paul McCartney concert - our first big event - and once again the electrical systems functioned beautifully. The Current Technology products are obviously doing their job." Since opening day, the Alamodome has hosted professional and collegiate football games, opening ceremonies for the U. S. Olympic Festival, numerous trade shows and the World Boxing Association’s match up of Pernell Whitaker and Julio Cesar Chavez, which was broadcast live to millions of boxing fans via pay-per-view TV. With help from Current Technology, the ‘Dome’s bright lights, neon scoreboards, broadcast hook-ups and advanced HVAC and sound systems performed on command for each of these events, and can be depended on to do so in the future.

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