A Modern Approach

Enterprise Center in St. Louis underwent a complete, three-year renovation that included modernization of six escalators.

Enterprise Center, an 18,000-plus-seat arena in St. Louis that opened in 1994, underwent a complete renovation, a project that included modernization of six escalators, starting in 2017. Driven by continual service issues and ticketholder complaints, the home to the National Hockey League’s (NHL) St. Louis Blues opted to modernize the 25-year-old escalators, choosing KONE to do the work from March to November 2019, which would have them ready in time for the NHL All Star Game in January 2020.

Enterprise Center is known for bringing more than 1 million visitors to St. Louis every year, so it was important that the arena remain open throughout the nine-month project. Hosting several events each week, the facility is one of the busiest in the Midwest, and that required disciplined scheduling and logistics. Deliveries could be made only through a garage under the facility, and no deliveries of equipment or material could be made during the periods when concert crews were onsite. To meet the scheduling demands, KONE opted to move forward with its EcoMod™ escalator replacement solution, which uses existing trusses to avoid complex and costly challenges inherent in truss removal and replacement.

The modernization crews’ work schedules were carefully aligned with scheduling of sport and concert events. No work took place after 3 p.m. on any day when a concert or sports event was scheduled. Removing only two escalators from service at a time helped minimize ticketholder disruption. Technicians working on the escalator modernization received specialized training before work began and were coached during the project by an expert installer. KONE’s crews worked six-day weeks to complete the project a month ahead of schedule.

In December 2018, when the decision was made to modernize the escalators at the arena, completion of the project in one year was a critical goal, with the planned hosting of the NHL’s all-star game in January 2020.

KONE upgrades Enterprise Center’s escalators on time with minimal disruption using EcoMod.

By late 2018, it had become clear that a solution was needed for the aging escalators. They had been a continual maintenance headache and source of guest complaints. Complete replacement was ruled out as impractical. An extensive renovation of the arena was already underway, and with the all-star game on the calendar, the work deadline was unmovable. Escalator modernization was the only viable option. Enterprise Center, which typically hosts up to 100 events each year, remained open. The events that draw thousands of visitors proceeded on schedule.

Two of the six escalators had a 24-ft. rise, and the remaining four each had a 38-ft. rise — roughly twice the height of the typical escalator. KONE took two units (one from each pair) out of service simultaneously. The ability to keep passengers on both sides of the arena moving in the “up” direction before an event and “down” direction afterward minimized disruption throughout the project lifespan. Work began with the north and south mezzanine units (two of the four 38-ft. escalators) and followed with north and south general admission and east and west club levels.

The compressed schedule presented challenges of its own. Between regular-season hockey games, unscheduled postseason play and concerts, KONE crews navigated a packed calendar and complex logistics. KONE deliveries had to be slipped in around concerts, entering via an underground garage. The ability to maintain flexible schedules, thanks to EcoMod, allowed rapid progress and an early completion.

“KONE crews were really good to work with us,” Todd Mitchell, vice president and general manager of the Enterprise Center, said. “The public could see progress, but they didn’t see the mess. KONE built partitions and coordinated how new laydown space would work so there were no problems with guest flow through the building.”

The EcoMod system allowed heavy usage surges before and after events to proceed smoothly and safely as guests made their way through various levels of the arena. The KONE system offered more benefits, as well: roughly 94% energy-efficient, the solution’s planetary gear drive systems reduce energy consumption and operating costs, while resetting the equipment’s lifecycle by inserting all-new escalators. Any amount of downtime can severely impact operations; ensuring minimal breakdowns is essential for smooth operations and happy guests.

“I was impressed by the fact that KONE was always flexible about working around our event schedule,” Mitchell said. “And, we really appreciated their responsiveness in getting units commissioned, training our staff and being onsite for our first few events.”

With fans coming to St. Louis from all over the U.S. and Canada, the all-star game put the spotlight on Enterprise Center, and the hosts were eager to show off the results of a major renovation. An important key to achieving that goal was the ability of KONE crews to remain almost invisible while performing their modernization work. These modernized escalators meet the latest safety standards and are energy-efficient and reliable.

A compressed construction schedule called for work to begin in March 2019, before regular season play ended. In December 2018, when the Blues were struggling, work scheduling didn’t seem like much of a problem. Then, in late January 2019, the team’s fortunes began to turn, and the Blues began winning. By March, when KONE crews took two of the Enterprise Center’s six escalators out of service, the team was on a winning streak that blazed through the playoffs. In June, it played its final home game in St. Louis before winning the Stanley Cup days later in Boston. Through the playoffs and postseason games, as well as during previously scheduled concerts, escalator modernization continued at the arena with minimal disruption.

In November 2019 — a month ahead of schedule — the project was complete, and all six of the modernized units were ready for use.

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Elevator World | February 2021 Cover