A. O. Smith proudly featured in new Milwaukee Bucks arena

Fiserv Forum daytime skyline

The Opportunity
These days, all eyes are on downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, location of the new $524 million, state-of-the-art Fiserv Forum – the eye-catching, multi-purpose arena, which is home to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and the Marquette University Golden Eagles men’s basketball team. The 714,000 square-foot facility is not only the city’s new central hub for sports and entertainment, it is expected to serve as an anchor and catalyst for Milwaukee’s downtown district. 

Bucks arenaWith such lofty goals for the multi-purpose venue, it was imperative that the arena’s architect and general contractor ensure that the new jewel in Milwaukee’s downtown was constructed with materials and equipment second-to-none. To that end, as designs and blueprints for the 17,500-person-capacity facility were being drafted, the Milwaukee Bucks quickly reached out to A. O. Smith Corporation to handle the facility’s hot water needs. 

The Solution
To address the majority of the arena’s hot water needs, the architect’s plans called for two custom-manufactured, truck-sized stainless steel steam units weighing 6,100 pounds each, as well as 19 additional standard water heater tanks to handle the concession areas at the outskirts of the building. 

‘There are very few manufacturers who would be able to deliver on an order like this,” said Peter Bibby, a representative from Soderholm and Associates. “Because of A. O. Smith’s nimbleness, they were able to quickly understand and address the Milwaukee Bucks’ needs.” 

A. O. Smith Steam UnitsStart to finish, it took A. O. Smith 12 weeks to manufacture the two custom 120” x 72” steam units, which have the capacity to push out 2,000 gallons of hot water at 140 degrees each hour, or approximately 50 times that of an average residential water heater tank. And, ultimately, given the enormity of the steam units, the architect altered the size of the doors to the utility room where the units are housed. 

“This was hardly a standard installation,” said Bibby. “It takes a lot of know-how, skill and organization for a plumber to handle a job of this size and scope. It was impressive for Hooper Corporation to make it happen seamlessly and as quickly as they did.”

Additionally, installation of the units at the arena required a few additional steps. That’s because all the water heating units are integrated into the building’s smart integrated controls system, which will trigger an immediate text message to the arena’s operations team, should the water temperature in the tanks ever drop below a recommended value. 

AO Smith Steam Water HeatersHooper Corporation’s Ryan Friedrich is pleased to have been part of such a momentous project and credits A. O. Smith’s top notch products and the stellar teamwork of all involved. 

“It was such a pleasure to work with Peter Bibby and A. O. Smith on this project,” said Friedrich. “Because of their know-how and professionalism, the project went really, really well. We were able to get all the units in place and hooked up with no major issues, which is quite impressive, given the scope of the project.” 

The End Result
The Milwaukee Bucks’ director of facilities, Todd Gamster, who started in his role mid-way through the arena’s construction, echoed the sentiment. While Gamster wasn’t around when the facility’s blueprints were drawn up, as a former plumber, he was thrilled to see that A. O. Smith had been specifically sought out to address the arena’s hot water needs. 

“Knowing that we have a reputable company representing our hot water needs is a great thing,” said Gamster. “I can breathe easier knowing that they don’t have to worry about the arena’s hot water, which is critical to our operation’s success. These A. O. Smith units are about as close to maintenance-free as you can get.” 

Inside Bucks ArenaIn the end, with the A. O. Smith steam units and tanks in place in the Fiserv Forum, it means a nearly endless hot water supply for the restrooms, kitchens, concession areas, as well as the team locker rooms, where the showers are nearly two feet taller than those in an average home. 

“Make no mistake. The products and the technology in this arena are state of the art,” said Gamster. “We’ve truly set the standard here for what other facilities around the globe will be aiming for in future years. To me, as a former plumber, it is a given that A. O. Smith is part of the mix.”