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ARENA PROBLEMS // Stadium can flush with a full house

Call this one the Seventh Inning Solution.

During the construction last year of Legends Field for the New York Yankees, there was disagreement about how much water the spring training stadium needed to operate properly.

Concern focused on whether there would be adequate water pressure for the public bathrooms during that all-important spectator rest break _ the Seventh Inning Stretch.

To settle the question, the builders ran a series of flush tests on the toilets starting in December. They did so with military precision.

The so-called "master flusher" ran the show. He used a two-way radio to keep in touch with his head flushers. There was one stationed in every public bathroom.

At the signal, the head flusher was supposed to urge each of his flushers to run among half-a-dozen toilets, operating them as quickly as possible.

Someone monitored the city water meter out near Dale Mabry Highway. Another watched the toilet closest to George Steinbrenner's personal offices. In one test, there were two dozen people involved.

On command, they flushed. And flushed again.

"I told them, "Flush 'em as fast as you guys can,'

" recalled the master flusher, Stanley P. Newton, the professional engineer with Engineering Matrix Inc. in St. Petersburg.

"There was no pressure," Newton recalled. "I said there ain't no way this is gonna happen."

Newton was asked to help devise a solution. He recommended six 1,000-gallon tanks be built into the stadium water supply. These tanks accumulated a reserve that kept the pressure steady, even during the demanding Seventh Inning Stretch. Newton estimated that a full house of 10,000 fans could go through about 4,000 gallons of water in one heady 20-minute period.

The tanks cost about $60,000 to install. The expense was absorbed by the design builder of the project, The Wilson Co. of Tampa. It didn't affect the fixed, $30-million tab Hillsborough County paid for the stadium and the land.

Even in hindsight, the development manager for Wilson, Terry L. Foote, said he wouldn't have done things any differently.

"This worked just fine," Foote said.

That's not to say Foote wasn't warned about the potential problem. In an April 6, 1995, memo, county project manager Chip Hayward expressed concern that the water pressure supplied by the existing service for the site _ a 2-inch-diameter water main operating in conjunction with a 2-inch water meter _ "may not be adequate to accommodate the needs of a facility of this size. . . . the failure of the 2-inch meter will be the sole responsibility of the design builder."

But the problem with upgrading the service to a 3-inch meter was the substantial connection fees the city charges to defray utility expenses.

The water department would have charged the design-builder upwards of $35,000 in connection and installation fees for a 3-inch water meter. The associated sewer capacity charge would have been an additional $114,000.

That means that even with the extra $60,000 for the water reservoir tanks, the builder still came out ahead _ to the tune of almost $90,000.

"We actually saved money," Foote said.

"With the surge tanks, the county didn't pay a dime extra," master flusher Newton said. "I'm comfortable with it."

The Yankees, for their part, have hired a private consultant to make sure the new system operates to their satisfaction. While they haven't signed off on it yet, Yankees Associate General Counsel John Agliano said, "all indications are it's fine _ so far, so good."

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