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Posts Tagged ‘football’

How The Helium Shortage Impacts Football Season

Friday, September 7th, 2012

The past week has been a welcome return to football season for fans everywhere. And that means a return to carbon-dioxide filled beverages, welded seats and a few helium-filled balloons. But for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the reunion with helium balloons would be its last for a while.

Going back to the 1940s, Huskers fans have upheld a tradition of releasing red, helium-filled balloons after the team’s first touchdown of every home game. In light of the current helium shortage, this 70-year-old tradition is in jeopardy. Last Saturday, balloons were filled for the school’s season opener for one final balloon release. But instead of the usual 5,000 balloons, only about half of that was filled. The balloon release is officially “on hiatus” for an indefinite period, leaving the school in search of a new tradition. (Got any gas-filled suggestions?)

It seems that helium and football go hand-in-hand at the University of Nebraska. I came across a video on the university’s YouTube channel in a series called “Football Physics.” The video features Professor Tim Gay, who brings science to the football field to see whether a helium-filled football could give a kicker any advantage. Want to find out the answer? The video is below.

The Discovery Channel’s MythBusters did a more comprehensive test of the same question in one episode, and actually predicted that the lighter, helium-filled ball would travel farther. To their surprise, they found that a heavier ball has greater force, and actually flies through the air farther. If footballs were light enough to float, we might have a different outcome.

It should be noted that UNL’s video shows the unsafe practice of inhaling helium—and, as GAWDA distributors can tell you, the dangers associated with helium are anything but a myth.

Even with the Huskers’ storied tradition coming to an end, there are many storylines in the world of football and gases and welding that will live on. What happens when a gases and welding distributor gets together with a football superstar? Read the conversation between South Jersey Welding Supply’s Bob Thornton and Super Bowl champ Joe Theismann here.

More Gases In The Super Bowl

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Sutton-Garten Company makes a bulk CO2 delivery at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Fresh off the Super Bowl, I wanted to share an update about the gases that play a role in The Big Game. As it turns out, the CO2 for the 2012 host stadium is supplied by Sutton-Garten Company (Indianapolis, IN), a GAWDA distributor member. “We deliver bulk CO2 and beverage gases for the beer and beverage service at Lucas Oil Stadium and quite a few of the surrounding restaurants and bars,” says President Pat Garten.

(In case you missed my previous post, check out five more ways that gases and welding industry was intertwined with this year’s Super Bowl.)

Believe it or not, he says Homeland Security checked his company’s truck before they were allowed in the stadium to make deliveries. He adds that the Super Bowl village only allows deliveries very early in the morning…so it sounds like the Super Bowl has kept Sutton-Garten on its toes.

Sutton-Garten has a dedicated page on its website for the Lucas Oil Stadium carbon dioxide system. I love the quote from Lucas Oil Building Authority President David Frick regarding the CO2 room, who says, “It’s the most important room in the building.” The website explains that the carbon dioxide system operates on nine 600-lb. bulk cylinders, which are piped to concession stands throughout the stadium. Pressurizing the system required about 700 lbs of carbon dioxide alone. There are some more great photos from Sutton-Garten at the link above.

During last night’s Super Bowl, oxygen also made a cameo as cameras showed a close-up of Giants Linebacker Chase Blackburn breathing in what looked like medical oxygen after intercepting Patriots QB Tom Brady. See the shot in the short video below.

You Can’t Have A Super Bowl Without Gases And Welding

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Welding makes it possible for fans to stay warm in Indy's network of skywalk-connected buildings.

This weekend, the country’s attention turns to football. And with it, it’s a perfect time to recognize the gases and welding hard at work behind the scenes of the Super Bowl. As the title says, you can’t have a Super Bowl without gases and welding. Even if you could, why would you want to?

The game is being hosted in Indianapolis this year, and in February, that means it’s going to be cold. Thanks to propane supplied by Ferrell Gas Company, local fans will be able to keep warm. Tents are going up all over downtown Indy, and the Office of Code Enforcement is requiring that they be heated for safety reasons. The Super Bowl committee uses propane because it burns clean, with low odor and emissions, and it’s not affected if the power goes out.

Fans staying in any of the 4,700-plus hotel rooms connected to the Indiana Convention Center, on the other hand, can thank their warmth to welding. That’s because those fans will never have to walk outside to get to the game. The ICC is connected to Lucas Oil Stadium by climate-controlled pedestrian walkways (pictured at right). Judging from the pictures, strong welds are definitely key to supporting these steel-and-glass skywalks.

Within Lucas Oil Stadium, where the game will be played, there are 16,000 tons of steel. The stadium has a first-of-its kind SuperFrame Structural System with a unique two-panel moving roof design. The roof itself is supported on five rails. Also, the stadium, which normally has 63,000, has boosted its capacity to 70,000 for Super Bowl XLVI. Sounds like a lot of welding to me.

Of course, gases are at work throughout the game, whether it’s helium balloons, medical oxygen on the sidelines or carbon dioxide making sure fans’ drinks are nice and foamy. GAWDA member Cyl-Tec designed and installed the entire nine tank cryogenic CO2 beverage system within Lucas Oil Stadium. The system stores pressurized, liquefied gas, with a high capacity for vaporization that allows more gas per volume.

Photo Courtesy James Smith/Dallas Cowboy

Dallas Cowboys Stadium hosted the Super Bowl in 2011 with over 165,000 ft. of welding.

Finally, if you’re in town for the game and you’re in the mood for a steak, it turns out Indy offers a venue unlike any other. Dunaway’s Palazzo Ossigeno (“Oxygen Building” in Italian) is housed in a building formerly used for the manufacture of bottled oxygen and hydrogen up until 1991. The Indiana Oxygen Building, as it is known, was built in 1930 by the GAWDA member of the same name. No word on whether knowing the building’s former owners can help you get a reservation.

Also, for recommended reading, be sure to check out “Gases And Welding In The Big Game,” which talks about how welding and gases were at work in last year’s Super Bowl—starting with the fact that the host stadium’s arches alone have over 165,000 ft. of welding.

Hyperbaric Oxygen vs. Twitter

Friday, August 19th, 2011
Torii Hunter, trapped in an oxygen chamber, via Twitter

Torii Hunter, trapped in an oxygen chamber, via Twitter

Earlier this week, hyperbaric oxygen chambers found their way into the news (albeit the back page news) when baseball player Torii Hunter of the L.A. Angels got stuck in an oxygen chamber. After a tough loss, Hunter was using the clubhouse oxygen chamber and was apparently unable to get the zipper to the chamber open. The interesting part of the situation is the fact that he broadcasted the experience over Twitter via his iPad.

Several tweets later, and after more than an hour being stuck in the chamber, Hunter tweeted, “Finally someone came to my rescue. I just want to thank you guys in the twitter world for hearing my cry.”

Even at age 36 (that’s getting up there in the athlete world), the nine-time Gold Glove winner continues to perform at a high level…and who knows, maybe it has something to do with the oxygen. Although Hunter’s mishap was rather unique, he isn’t the only athlete using oxygen to improve and heal injuries.

In 2010, Welding & Gases Today took an in-depth look at hyperbaric oxygen therapy, its markets and its uses. Among the instances, the article reports, “The week before the Super Bowl, Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney used HBOT to help heal an ankle injury. Freeney ended up playing in all four quarters of the game.” Tiger Woods and Tim Tebow, among others, have been reported to have their own personal oxygen chambers.

It’s certainly a niche market for oxygen, but it’s one that’s growing. And maybe, with a little help from Torii Hunter and Twitter, the market has gained a little more exposure.

Football And GAWDA: A Perfect Pair

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Photo Courtesy James Smith/Dallas CowboyAs the Super Bowl approaches, the nation’s attention turns to football. Lucky for us, the gases and welding industry and the game of football are inextricably linked. Just this October, for example, at the 2010 GAWDA Annual Convention in Maui, Joe Theismann, Super Bowl champ, was the keynote speaker. We don’t need six degrees of separation—we only need one: South Jersey Welding Supply president Bob Thornton Jr. played in a pickup football game with Theismann on the beaches of New Jersey. In case you missed it, Thornton and Theismann recently reunited in the pages of Welding & Gases Today.

As for the Super Bowl itself, the gases and welding industry play an important role in delivering an amazing experience for fans everywhere. Between the TVs fans will watch on, the stadium which will play host to the event and the beverages served at the game, to name a few, the gases and welding industry has its fingers in a lot of Super Bowl pies. Just to give you a taste, the stadium’s arches boast 165,000 ft of welding. Get the whole story here.

Also, is there a chance that the longest field goal in NFL history actually used a football filled with helium? The MythBusters team put the question of whether helium makes a ball fly farther to the test. I’m not going to ruin the surprise for you. Check out a recap of the episode to find out.

And who could forget GAWDA’s Gridiron Greats, a collection of distributors and suppliers who dug out their old photo albums and shared photos from their playing days. For a little challenge, see if you can guess any of the GAWDA members from their photos without looking at the names. Our GAWDA Gridiron Greats team may not be able to compete for a Super Bowl, but at least they can boast their connection to the industry that makes the game what it is today.

Football, Gases and Demolition

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

The 2010 NFL season starts on Thursday, and that means two things. First, I am eagerly looking forward to taking on my colleagues at GAWDA’s magazines in our office fantasy football league. (Competition is good for the customer, right?) And second, it means the unveiling of the new Meadowlands stadium, home of the Jets and Giants, is around the corner. And you can bet that gases and welding played a big part of building that new stadium.

One thing I didn’t realize, until I recently spoke with GAWDA member AWISCO, was that the gases and welding industry was a major part of the demolition of the old Giants Stadium as well. AWISCO supplied tube trailers of oxygen and pallets of acetylene to supply cutting gases for the demolition team’s cutting torches. According to AWISCO, strategic cuts to beams and girders allowed the stadium to be pulled down in large sections.

Want to see it in action? Check out this video showing the demolition of the stadium’s iconic press tower. You might want to put on your safety glasses.

If you are interested in how gases and welding help to shape modern stadiums, check out our recent feature on Yankee Stadium in Welding & Gases Today. Any cool projects your company was involved with? Tell me about it by leaving a comment.

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