Craig Ferrell (right), Munters' sales manager for the MCS Events Group, and an Indian Wells technician are seated in the 16,000-seat stadium.

Andre Agassi and Serena Williams battled their respective opponents under a sweltering sun this spring in the Masters Series Indian Wells, near Palm Springs, CA, to win the men's and women's singles matches.

When not watching the action in the 16,000-seat stadium, club members, exhibit visitors and guests of corporate sponsors were able to gain respite from the desert heat in climate controlled tents for only the second year since 1988, the first time the tournament was held at Indian Wells.

"In previous years, hot days with temperatures hitting the 90s, and some nights that were too cold for comfort, put a damper on the events," sited Luke Lanford, a manager at Indian Wells. "Sponsors looked to us for a solution."

Major sponsors for this year's event, held March 7-18, 2001, included Newsweek magazine, Mercedes-Benz, and Fila. Sponsors typically host under-tent receptions and lounge-rest areas for their guests.

"Participation by corporate sponsors is important to the success of the tournament, now the sixth largest in the world. Without air conditioning in prior years, sponsors complained that they could only host events in the evenings after temperatures cooled," Lanford said. Even then, there was a problem. Occasionally, evening events ran until midnight. In March, temperatures often cool quickly at night in the desert environment, again making it uncomfortable for guests who were dressed for the heat.

The solution to the problem was to utilize an air conditioning system that could alternate between providing cooling or heating to maintain a consistent comfort level in the low 70s throughout the day and evening.

Munters units provide relief for club memebers, exhibit visitors, and guests of corporate sponsors.

This year, Indian Wells contracted Aztec Tents and Events in Torrance, Calif. to erect and manage the event tents. In turn, Aztec conducted competitive bidding and awarded the air conditioning contract to Munters Moisture Control Services (MCS), Amesbury, Mass. Jim Gilroy of Aztec said the specifications were established to meet the challenges presented by unpredictable weather at Indian Wells during the planned time of the tournament. "The weather can fluctuate dramatically on any given day, and from day to day," Gilroy said. "It can be very hot, then change to windy and rainy and get very cold, with 40 to 60-degree temperature drops from afternoon to evening."

Gilroy said Aztec specified climate control equipment that was state-of-the art, adaptable to the conditions, small, quiet, attractive, and portable. "The tournament is a class-A event and the climate control units need to fit in aesthetically as well as functionally," he said.

Several days before the event, Munters trucked in a number of Special Event DX coolers from its western regional office in Irvine, CA, one of its 36 locations in the U.S. and Canada. A four-man crew set up the units in a day and a half, and one technician remained on site for the entire two-week event.

Unlike most large air conditioners that require a wide footprint to spread their weight, the Munters' ductless units are designed for placement on the ground and fit into a wall of a commercial tent.

A Munters technician inspects a Munters Special Event DX cooler.

"The units are vertical and compact, and require very little room outside the tent, which is an advantage where tents are erected close together," said Craig Ferrell, Munters' sales manager for the MCS Events Group.

Installation included:

  • Climate control equipment in a 40- by 80-square foot tent through which 10,000 visitors would walk during the two-week event. Sponsored by Newsweek, The Indian Wells Tennis Heritage Garden tent was a showcase of the history of tennis that housed exhibits and memorabilia.
  • Climate control for two, 40- by 40-square foot hospitality tents.
  • Additional units in the Mercedes-Benz hospitality tent measuring 40- by 80square feet.
  • Climate control for the 40- by 40-square foot sales tent.
  • Units for a mammoth 100- by 120-square foot tent used for large banquets and the end-of-tournament ceremonies.
  • The size of the tent, the number of people expected to be inside, their activities and movement, auxiliary heat that may be generated from items such as lighting, infiltration of outside air and weather conditions are all factors considered in planning for conditioning the air, Ferrell explained.

    He said the Munters' units are thermostatically controlled to meet temperature changes and can handle tents ranging from 500 to 100,000 square feet.

    "As the air temperature changes, the units automatically adjust to deliver cool air or heat to meet the desired indoor temperature setting," Ferrell said.

    Did the system work? In contrast to the guests who enjoyed comfortable conditions, the men's singles winner, Andre Agassi, summed up his experience with the heat during a post-match interview.

    A reporter asked, "You had to play last night, had to play today. Didn't look like you broke a sweat. What did you and your trainer prepare for?" Agassi responded, "Didn't look like I broke a sweat today? Wow. I work hard to make it look like that then. I thought it was tough conditions today. It was pretty hot. There's no escape from the sun. I mean, you've got to prepare smarter as you get older."

    And so, too, has the Masters Series Indian Wells prepared smarter to please its corporate sponsors and VIP guests. "There are many companies that can provide permanent air conditioning, but not many that can handle it on a portable basis," noted Gilroy. "Munters came through with efficient, practical, good looking units."

    Munters MCS is North America's largest water damage recovery/temporary humidity control company. MCS Events Group provides climate control services for events, traveling exhibits, trade shows, arena operations and other situations that require short-term climate control in temporary and/or permanent venues.

    Event planners may contact Munters at 1-800-MUNTERS (486-8377). Information also is available at

    Publication date: 08/13/2001