“It takes an army,” says Lorne Rabinovitch, Crescent’s Director of Facilities. He’s talking about the team needed to install and inflate the dome that now sits on the newly-refurbished Innes Field. “It comes in three major pieces, they’re huge, and it takes about 30 to 50 people to pull it out.” Installing it for the first time took just over one week.
Thanks to its lighting, heating and shelter from windchill, “The dome enhances what we do,” says Athletics Director Fraser Bertram. “It means more indoor space for phys-ed, it can increase options for recess in the winter, and we can offer more programs like rugby, soccer and intramural options, over the winter season.” Headmaster Michael Fellin shared his enthusiasm: “To think we were able to achieve the entire field project within a global pandemic is nothing short of extraordinary.”
The process of setting up the dome is complex, resembling a large-scale jigsaw puzzle. Underneath the pristine Innes Field turf is a concrete foundation, 275 feet long and 130 feet wide, circling the perimeter of the dome. To prepare, the turf is removed and the dome is attached. An electrical box weighing 8,000 lbs. is brought in to support lighting, heating and air infrastructure. A series of fans sit low inside the dome, with the air being guided by a series of runs and channels to maintain the pressure needed to keep the dome inflated. If there is snow, ice or high wind, the air system will adjust to keep the dome up and to encourage precipitation to roll off.
That is the simplified version. “Besides that, it pretty much runs itself,” says Rabinovitch. “It’s monitored and, if anything changes, we’re notified.”