Biola explores solutions to lack of air conditioning in Chase Gymnasium
Student pack into the bleachers for the Wednesday afternoon session of Torrey Conference. It wasn't uncommon for students to fan themselves throughout the sessions due to the warm conditions. | Ashleigh Fox/THE CHIMES
After sitting through the heat of Chase Gymnasium during this year’s Torrey Memorial Bible Conference, students and faculty seek a solution to the lack of air conditioning in a space that holds the majority of university-wide events.
Chris Reyes, manager of Biola’s central plant and HVAC — Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning — said that the probability of air conditioning in the gym comes up every time Biola hosts a large event.
“This has been looked at since [president Clyde] Cook was here,” Reyes said.
Reyes and Jeff Hoffman, sports information director and media relations coordinator for Athletics, are counting the cost.
Hoffman said, “If I had to make the decision right now I would say, ‘Yeah, we probably should hold off on the air conditioning.’ As much as I’d like it; it would be great.”
STUDENTS EXPRESS CONCERNS
While sitting in the gym for the three-day Torrey Conference, students felt the heat.
“It’s hard to pay attention to the speaker when everyone’s crowded around you, fanning themselves and complaining,” freshman political science major Sami Olson said.
Reyes described a scene that happens all too often in Chase.
“Somebody leans over to somebody higher up and says, ‘How much is it going to cost again to get air conditioning in here?’” he said.
The lack of cool air on hot days is not the only problem. Senior music and psychology major Marianna Kleemann said that although the gym was hot during the conference, it can get cold with fewer people.
ATHLETES AND SPECTATORS SUFFER
Beyond problems with chapel events, Hoffman said that the lack of air conditioning in the gym affects student athletes’ performance as well as spectators’ attendance and enjoyment.
Last summer, Biola hosted a volleyball tournament in weather topping 100 degrees. In addition to increased body temperature from movement, Hoffman said, “When you don’t have that second when you can stop and kind of recover and cool down, it makes it even harder.”
Hoffman said Biola’s athletic department had to refund money to potential spectators of the volleyball tournament due to the heat.
CAMPUS RICH IN HISTORY, NOT IN PIPING
Chase Gymnasium was built in 1964, when air conditioning was not a feature in any building. The blame should not be cast on the original builders, because they did the best they could at the time, Hoffman said.
One of the ministries that hosts a summer conference at Biola requests temporary air conditioning. It costs the ministry about $40,000 to install and run the temporary system, according to Reyes. It would cost Biola almost the same amount to install air conditioning during Torrey Conference.
The staff has looked into installing permanent air conditioning in Chase and the cost would be more than $1 million, Reyes said.
A Convocation Center, which would provide an air conditioned space for non-sporting events, was featured in the university’s most recent master plan, but it is unclear where that is on the timeline, according to Hoffman. He estimates that after additional parking space that project would cost more than $20 million.
Even though $1 million would perhaps be better spent in the building of such a center, if it takes 20 years to build the center it would be worth spending the money on the gym so people can be comfortable at events, Hoffman said.
While plans for a Convocation Center are on the horizon, Reyes is currently weighing the cost and feasibility of ventilation, but there is no cost estimate just yet.