Our Northwest

How CenturyLink Field preps for winter

Friday, October 31, 2014by  Jon Osterberg

Just as you winterize your home, Northwest landmarks get prepped for winter, too.
   That includes CenturyLink Field, home of the Seahawks and Sounders.
   Some of what’s done to “the CLink”  is no different from what homeowners do, said Jacob Davis, CenturyLink Field’s facilities manager.
   “We clear drains, wrap pipes to keep them from freezing, make sure all grounds are free of hazards,” he said. “Same stuff you do at home, just on a bigger scale.”
   But when I dug deeper, I learned there are a few things the CLink does that are a little different.
   For example, when the playing field freezes before a game, Davis and crew cover the entire surface with a tarp. Then they bring in megawatt heaters – kind of like huge pistol hair dryers – and blast hot air under the tarp.
   “That turns it into a big balloon,” Davis said, “and the trapped heat thaws the field.”
   I asked Davis if he knew about the 1985 Apple Cup game, played in Seattle during a 19-degree Arctic blast. Workers literally poured antifreeze in the Husky Stadium toilets to keep them from freezing. That wouldn’t happen at the CLink, Davis said, because the restrooms are heated to about 55 degrees.
   “It won’t feel warm in there, but it’s warm enough to keep water from freezing,” he said.
   I beg to differ. During last February’s Seahawks victory rally at the CLink, where the temperature dropped into the 20s, I took refuge in the men’s room a couple of times to escape the chill. It felt blissfully warm.
   Davis also said he spreads snow-melt on CLink concourses to prevent slips and falls, and the public-access areas around the field get sprinkled with sand.
   Let’s hope the football field won’t freeze when the Seahawks play the 49ers at the CLink Dec. 14. The average high for that date is 45 degrees.
   Interesting to note, Dec. 14 also was the date of the infamous 2006 Hanukkah Eve Windstorm.

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