Total Coolness At Buffalo PAC

A historic Buffalo, N.Y., theatre will be getting a much-needed upgrade to its air conditioning system thanks to the shuttered Memorial Auditorium, which is scheduled for demolition as part of a waterfront redevelopment plan.

The retired venue’s cooling system will be reinstalled at the 3,019-capacity Shea’s Performing Arts Center down the street, which is undergoing a $1.5 million revamp to its heating and cooling system. Officials said using the recycled equipment could save the PAC up to $100,000.

The Memorial Auditorium’s system was installed three years before the 1996 opening of HSBC Arena (formerly Marine Midland Arena) and is compatible with the arts center’s existing setup.

Shea’s PAC President Tony Conte said the project – four years in the making – began last September and is an expansion on the basic system put in eight years ago.

"At the time the system was built, it was originally [designed] to cool the whole facility, not just the stage house and stage area. However, due to budget cuts, that was eliminated from the original project," Conte told Pollstar. "The beauty of this system is that the chillers, which are the heavy duty part of the system, sit up on the roof seven stories above the street and they only run at night. The only things running are these super-quiet fans."

A city crew is expected to begin moving the Memorial Auditorium’s 10 ice tanks to the PAC late July and a new air handler, to be delivered in sections, will also be installed when the theatre is dark.

Conte said the new-and-improved air conditioning will open the venue’s summer booking opportunities, potentially up to 35 dates.

"We haven’t aggressively gone after dates in the summer because the air conditioning in this building has never been very good," Conte explained. "Once this is done, summer events will be easy. We’re pretty excited about the ability to do this."

The renovation project is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2008 season opening with "Wicked."