City to spend COVID relief dollars to replace ozone-depleting ice machinery at BlueCross Arena 

click to enlarge The Blue Cross Arena is the home rink for the Rochester Americans.

FILE PHOTO

The Blue Cross Arena is the home rink for the Rochester Americans.

The city of Rochester wants to spend $400,000 in federal COVID relief dollars to replace ice-making machinery at the BlueCross Arena that makes use of a chemical linked to climate change.

The BlueCross Arena is owned by the city and is home to the Rochester Americans, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres.

In legislation submitted to City Council for approval, Mayor Malik Evans said the current refrigerant system used to create and maintain the layer of ice on the rink has been operating for about three decades and was due to be replaced.

“The system was installed in the early 1990s and has far exceeded its operating life expectancy,” the legislation reads. “Additionally, the antiquated system utilizes R-22 refrigerant which is now discontinued.”

If the legislation is approved, the city would enter into an agreement with Bergmann Associates to install a new system. Council is expected to vote on the measure during its March 21 meeting.

Bergmann was selected out of five vendors that submitted proposals to the city. The project will be funded entirely by money the city received through the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, according to the legislation.

Chlorodifluoromethane, more commonly known as R-22, is a type of freon refrigerant commonly used in ice machines and air conditioning units. In 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency banned the production and import of R-22 due to its potential as a contributor to climate change. It was a major step in the agency’s 10-year running effort to phase out R-22.

The chemical is a greenhouse gas that has a much higher potential to trap heat than carbon dioxide, which means it can exacerbate climate change when released into the air. The EPA describes R-22 as an “ozone-depleting refrigerant” which has, alongside similar chemicals, “created an ‘ozone hole’ over the South Pole.”

The design phase for the new ice system is expected to begin this summer with completion by 2025.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or [email protected].
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