Blog: Dome Stories

Sun Devil's Solar Power

Florida calls itself “the Sunshine State,” but Arizona’s got ‘em beat.  Old Sol shines on Phoenix 296 days a year on average. So, it wasn’t a stretch of imagination when Arizona State University committed to generating its own solar power.

College football practice inside an inflatable football dome

The school passed a solar energy milestone a few years ago when the Verde Dickey Dome came on-line. It pushed ASU’s power generation past 10 MW – which is enough juice to power residential homes in a town of 6,500. Since then, ASU’s solar energy production has doubled.

Aerial view of ASU's inflatable fabric dome

The dome’s fans and lights are powered by that solar energy. And while ASU’s dome users may or may not appreciate the “green” distinction that comes with their maroon and white dome, they know it’s a haven when Tempe temperatures top out.

KEEPING IT COOL

“We had nine days in a row where the temperature was over 112 degrees in June,” says Pete Wozniak, ASU’s manager of athletic facilities. “Then 11 in a row with temperatures over 110.  That kind of heat saps your energy,” he said.

College football practice inside an inflatable football dome

It’s not only energy-sapping. Arizona’s sun can be dangerous and dehydrating to athletes. Which is why the dome – known as “the bubble” – was built in the first place. It’s a safe place to practice and play. “The goal is to get them out of the heat,” Wozniak said.

The bubble is used primarily by ASU and hosts their football team, marching band, baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse teams as practice and play space. With August high temperatures averaging 103 degrees, the air-conditioned bubble is indeed the cool place to hang out.