The Hibbing Memorial Building Arena in Hibbing, Minn, is one of the city’s famous landmarks. The 37,000-square-foot structure with a 70-foot dome was built for recreational and civic use in 1935. Its barn-style arena seats about 4,500 people, and hosts hockey games, figure skating shows, concerts and other recreational events. The building’s unique architecture and destination as a hockey rink in Northern Minn. makes it a true local showcase.
The city of Hibbing ensures the arena is well maintained, and is always looking for ways to improve guests’ experiences in the historic building. One weakness cited by its staff was poor lighting in the arena.
“There was a need to achieve brighter and crisper lighting for all our events,” said Pete Hyduke, director of city services. “We wanted to evaluate the newest technology with the goal of increasing the quality of light, cutting power consumption and reducing maintenance.
“Fluorescent tubes were not the solution,” said Hyduke. “When I visit other arenas, those tubes are always burnt out, and I didn’t want to conduct maintenance constantly.”
Hyduke began to consider options for the retrofit and contacted Werner Electric, a leading electrical distributor. “There were 64 high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs in the arena initially,” said Randy Moberg, energy services and solutions manager at Werner Electric. “The bulbs were 750 to 1,000 watts and consumed a lot of energy. We were involved in the first retrofit in 1994 when we converted the arena to 32 1,000-watt Prismpack® metal halide fixtures from Holophane®. This retrofit successfully reduced their lighting energy spending by 50 percent.”
Based on the goals, Werner Electric advocated for LED lighting. “Randy brought in samples of LEDs. They gave off a very white light, which was better than what I had seen before,” said Hyduke. “I brought the samples to city budget hearings, cut off the old lights, showed them the LEDs, talked about energy consumption savings and the city council was sold on it.”
The arena ceiling heights also played a role in the type of luminaires required to effectively light the space.
“We were evaluating Holophane® Phuzion™ LED high bays and they were the best option to accomplish a retrofit with 35-foot ceilings,” said Moberg. “That’s pretty solid for a piece of lighting technology.”
Ultimately, 48 Phuzion LED high bays were selected as the solution; 32 twin 24,000-lumen fixtures and 16 18,000-lumen fixtures.
The Phuzion LED high bays run at a cool temperature, so they do not bring any additional heat into the building – crucial to an ice rink needing to save on energy costs.
The lights feature instant-on and instant-off capabilities, and quiet running. Before the retrofit, the old lights emitted a humming noise. Hyduke and his staff were pleased with the quiet operation of the new LED luminaires.
The fixtures also reduce maintenance costs with a life span of more than 100,000 hours. Before the retrofit, the lighting required maintenance before the start of each season. Bulbs were replaced every year, and there was a distinct difference between the new and older bulbs, creating inconsistent lighting.
Arena Achieves Significant Energy Savings
“The difference is night and day,” said Hyduke. “Now we have clean, white light with less shadowing. It even makes colors more vibrant.”
Hyduke said the cost savings associated with the retrofit has been well received by city leaders. This is a huge benefit for Hyduke – especially in times budgeting.
“We considered lighting from a maintenance point of view, and this solution was easier, required less maintenance and still offered the key benefits,” said Hyduke. “The biggest kicker is the energy savings; that’s the biggest plus.”
Hyduke consulted Tanuj Gulati, senior energy engineer at Energy Insight, Inc., for information on energy savings and rebates relating to the project.
Gulati said the arena will save more than 84,000 kilowatt hours annually, delivering a $7,700 annual savings in energy costs attributed to lighting. Additionally, the energy savings qualified the arena for a $2,944 rebate – almost the full amount available.
The lights feature a 100,000-hour life, which Gulati has predicted will take the arena 20 years before replacements are needed.
“The great thing is they are saving at least $7,700 every year,” said Gulati. “As the cost of energy goes up, and the arena continues to save on kilowatt hours, the financial savings will actually increase too.”
It is amazing how well lit our whole arena is now,” said Moberg. “We can illuminate the entire arena without turning on the bleacher lighting. Even the visiting hockey teams have commented on how great the lighting is.