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Montreal Protocol


Hockey and the Montreal Protocol

Montreal saw the first indoor game of modern hockey take place in March 1875. A little over 100 years later, in September 1987, Montreal also saw the governments of the U.S. and Canada sign an international treaty, the Montreal Protocol. This climate-related agreement established the phase out of ozone-depleting substances, which include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The elimination of one CFC, in particular, the refrigerant HCFC-22 (Freon), directly impacts the hockey community as it is the primary refrigerant used in the majority of ice arenas built before the early 1990s.  While Freon has been phased out in most consumer equipment, there are still several industrial sectors where it is used, including ice arena refrigeration systems.

Feeling the Pinch

The year 2010 brought on a major phase of the Montreal Protocol, which required a significant reduction in HCFC production, including Freon. This has had a direct financial impact on ice arenas across the U.S. and Canada, with the cost of Freon rising over 250% in the last eight years. This added expense makes for an even tighter operating budget at most arenas. One that they cannot afford.

The End is Near

Beginning January 1, 2020 the Montreal Protocol will require that the U.S. reduce its consumption of CFCs by 99.5% below the original U.S. baseline. Any refrigerant that has been recovered, recycled and reclaimed will be allowed beyond 2020, to service existing systems, but chemical manufacturers will no longer be able to produce Freon to service existing systems. No import of Freon will be allowed in to the U.S. either. This will have a serious impact on the cost of Freon, compounding the financial challenges for communities across the U.S., and to a lesser degree in Canada. As 2020 approaches, communities need to make some very difficult decisions on what to do about their ice arenas - update their refrigeration systems, increase the cost of ice rental to cover the rising cost of Freon, or close down, which the St. Paul Coliseum did in 2014.  We at Blue Line Apparel Co. are here to help keep our rinks, so that they do not suffer the same fate as the St. Paul Coliseum.