Can weather affect indoor sports? Just ask Providence College officials, who for the second time in 12 months have expressed concern with the playing conditions inside Dunkin' Donuts Center, the Friars' basketball home since 1972.
After a game against Marquette in February 2017 saw several players slip and fall on the arena's hardwood floor, facility operators tried to anticipate 60-degree outdoor temperatures and a crowd of 11,000 by cooling the building days in advance of Wednesday's game against Seton Hall. Their efforts failed to keep moisture from condensing on the warm playing surface, despite being separated from the ice sheet below by a thick rubber subfloor.
Seton Hall lost its leading scorer to a slip-and-fall ankle injury in the first half, prompting officials to confer about the conditions. Once two more players went down, the game was suspended with 13:03 remaining in the second half. It resumed 15 hours later in Providence's campus gym, with Seton Hall winning, 89-77.
An $80 million renovation of the arena 10 years ago still left it without a dehumidifier, which operators claim isn't needed if air-conditioning and rink chiller systems are synchronized properly. “We have met with building management and mechanical engineers today to discuss plans to improve court conditions and prevent this from happening again,” James McCarvill, president of the Rhode Island Convention Center, said in a statement. “Our capital-improvement plan already includes a number of measures that should address the problem, including the installation in the coming months of a fully-automated energy management system.”
“It’s really concerning because I thought we had things under control,” Providence athletic director Bob Driscoll said, as reported by the Providence Journal. “I was assured that all the systems were in place, that we had the air conditioning on the right level. So we have to figure it out.”