Not only will McKendree Metro Rec Plex be a leader of its kind in the metro-east with two NHL-sized ice rinks, an aquatic center fit with a 10-lane championship swimming pool and recreational pool, but it’s also using the latest in cutting edge technology with it’s implementation of Eco Chill by a Canadian company CIMCO. The project is still on schedule for its expected completion in about four months.
“It’s a heat reclamation system that allows us to reclaim the byproduct heat coming from the system used to keep the ice cool, and that is normally wasted, but with Eco Chill we can recycle that heat in other needed areas of the facility,” John Arbeiter, senior general manager, said.
In other words, the left over heat that normally would dissipate into the air, will be re-routed to be used in areas such as the locker rooms to heat the water for showers, Kim Smallheer, general manager, said.
“It’s very new technology, and very green and eco-friendly,” Smallheer said.
It’s very new technology, and very green and eco-friendly.
Kim Smallheer, complex general manager.
The effect of greebhouse gases on the environment coupled with current electric and gas rates are the motivating concerns for all ice rink owners and users these days who are seeking out less negative impacting technologies, Arbeiter said.
One of the rinks will be a year-round ice rink for athletes and competitions, where as the second will be seasonal, and turned into an arena for events like trade shows, concerts, organization meetings or public speakers.
“It can be used for concerts, trade shows, conventions or any type of event needing 20,000 square feet of open space. We will have bleachers on either side with one side being retractable underneath the top level seating area overlooking the space,” Arbeiter said.
“We will be able to put over 3,000 people here for a concert venue to see an up and coming country star or an aging rocker who wants to hang on,” he said.
We will be able to put over 3,000 people here for a concert venue to see an up and coming country star or an aging rocker who wants to hang on.
John Arbeiter, complex senior manager.
The vanguard technology incorporates a geothermal horizontal loop piping system under the adjacent running track, which will be connected to CIMCO’s Eco Chill system in a seperate mechanical room.
“There’s more than 13 miles worth of this plastic, rubberish piping that gets laid, and before that they had to dig about three feet down for everything to fit in. Interestingly enough there’s enough piping that gets looped back and forth the whole length of the rink that one could line a 26.2 mile marathon route with it,” Smallheer said with a chuckle.
The geothermal loop acts as both a heat source and heat sink, depending on the seasonal needs of the building and the ice rink refrigeration system, Smallheer said.
The energy savings are very impressive with an estimated reduction of about 38 percent compared to other conventional complexes, according to CIMCO’s Eco Chill website.
Arbeiter describes some of the other uses for wasted heat that the thermal equalized glycol system untilizes, including sub floor heating below both rinks; ice resurfacer snow melting; service water heating for ice resurfacer equipment; domestic water heating for dressing rooms and public washrooms; and, building heating through centralized heat pumps and supplemental heating.
“I really think this will not just become another business in O’Fallon, but, really a destination for folks to visit — with our hotels, restaurants, shopping and now this state of the art sports complex where everyone in the family can find something to do or enjoy — people are bound to start visiting more once the complex is done, and then the rest of the corner is developed,” Smallheer said.
I really think this will not just become another business in O’Fallon, but, really a destination for folks to visit.
Kim Smallheer, complex general manager.
Other excitement on the project site includes the 14-foot deep competitive swimming pool excavation and the currently underway.
“We will have seating for 500-600 spectators for the public and students, and it’s going to have about half a million gallons of water,” Smallheer said.
The membership drive is open and going well, Arbeiter said.
“We are so excited for people to sign up and be able to use the new facility very soon,” Arbeiter said.
Level playing field
Outfitted with signs of protest, not tool belts and hard hats, laborers representing Steamfitters Local 439 frequented the project site entrance last week.
The main bone of contention lies with who has been contracted by the developer, S.I. Strategy LLC Dean Oelze of Nashville, Ill., to handle the construction of the the complex’s main attraction — the two NHL-sized ice rinks.
Last week, there were laborers from Steamfitters Union 439 of Caseyville furnished with signs to picket the use of non-union laborers from an international HVAC/regrigeration technology company CIMCO, instead of local St. Clair County union laborers.
Steamfitters Local 439 business manager and treasurer Charles “Totsie” Bailey said the union is 135 men strong who all pay into federal and state taxes and take care of the local economy they service, unlike the Canadian company CIMCO contracted to handle the ice rink’s construction.
“They are out there because they want people in O’Fallon to know that CIMCO is stealing our jobs. The McKendree Metro Rec Plex has hired foreign non-union workers, and they aren’t putting a single penny back into our local economy,” Bailey said.
They are out there because they want people in O’Fallon to know that CIMCO is stealing our jobs. The McKendree Metro Rec Plex has hired foreign non-union workers, and they aren’t putting a single penny back into our local economy.
Charles “Totsie” Bailey, Steamfitters Local 439 business manager and treasurer.
Oelze said from the beginning of the project before breaking ground in October 2015, the companies contracted were lined up were based on an excess of 20 proposals from different architects and engineering companies.
“It came down to I felt CIMCO has the superior product for what we needed based on its efficiency and design, as well as their overall business acumen in this area,” Oelze said.
Although CIMCO is a Canadian company, Oelze said they signed with one of its subsidiary groups called Toromont that have a number of U.S. based locations.
“So we signed a contract with a U.S. based company, not a foreign one, but they are not unionized,” Oelze said.
“However we did dictate in the contract before any work started that prevailing wages is being paid by using union rates, so we aren’t using cheaper labor or anything like that, it just boiled down to their superior expertise, and we wanted the unique and green product they had to offer,” Oelze said.
Arbeiter and Smallheer said they are more than satisfied with the decision to use CIMCO. But it was up to the developer to contract CIMCO to handle the ice rinks, not management.
“It’s out of our hands. Most HVAC system companies may not be familiar with this type of technology because it is so leading edge,” Arbeiter said.
Bailey said over $270 million is spent annually to train the union laborers on all types of piping and new technologies through the United Association (UA).
“We are trained, and it’s not about who can work with certain types of technologies because our guys are trained every year, and we’ve been doing this for 106 years, and that’s longer than CIMCO has been around,” Bailey said.
CIMCO representatives were unable to be reached for comment.
“Leaving less of a carbon footprint is a big factor,” Arbeiter said.
Ensuring the best possible product on the market for eco-friendly technology was the developer’s main focus when making the final call on the contractor for the ice rinks, he said.
“This is a new system that CIMCO has perfected, and they have the patent on this product. I’m fairly certain we are one of the first in a handful of other sports complexes in the world who are using this type of tech,” Arbeiter said.
This is a new system that CIMCO has perfected, and they have the patent on this product. I’m fairly certain we are one of the first in a handful of other sports complexes in the world who are using this type of tech.
John Arbeiter, complex senior manager.
CIMCO website has three other U.S.A. projects listed, including:
- Adrian College, Mich.
- SUNY Canton, N.Y.
- Lockport Ice Arena N.Y.
Smallheer added, the developer is not picking sides per say between union and non-union laborers because there are many other labor union tradesman working on the project too.
“It keeps a level playing field, honestly,” Smallheer said.
The McKendree Metro Rec Plex project is a prevailing wage project, Arbeiter pointed out.
“We are paying prevailing wages here, but we hire each trade with the intent of providing the best product, which is the ice rinks and the refrigeration system in this case. We have a plethora of union trades doing work on this job from mechanical functions to plumbing to electrical to masonry work,” Arbeiter said.
Bailey said, it’s important for people to understand that the laborers of the Steamfitters Union 439 spend thousands of volunteer man hours and funds on charity work in the metro-east annually in places where help is needed moste, like in East St. Louis.
“Our contractors help us our with our fundraising and charity work in the community, and it’s a shame (the developer) is hiring foreign non-union workers to come in, take our money from us, and use it elsewhere instead of contributing to the local economy in any way,” Bailey added.
Over the past 13 years Steamfitters Local 439 has raised $400,000 for organizations assisting Illinois children who are burn survivors, and over $500,000 to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (MS).
First to be anchored in the Four Points Commercial Development, the sports complex will not only include two NHL‐sized ice rinks, but will also have, a championship swimming pool, a recreational swimming pool, a half‐court basketball court, weight rooms, a childcare facility, a fitness facility with excercise class rooms, a walking track and office space.
Upon completion, this facility will be open to the public, as well as home to the McKendree University’s hockey and aquatic teams and the Southern Illinois Ice Hawks youth hockey association. For more updates visit www.metrorecplex.com.