:: Keeping cool at the Super Bowl

Keeping cool at the Super Bowl: Big Fogg Misting System of Temecula works fifth big game

By: WYATT HAUPT - Staff Writer NCTimes.com

When the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots play in Super Bowl XXXIX today in Jacksonville, Fla., the person with the coolest seat in the house probably won't be an announcer, coach or journalist in an air conditioned press box in Alltel Stadium.

That distinction will go to the players on the sidelines who are sitting under misting fans provided and set up by Chris Miehl and his crew from Big Fogg Misting Systems in Temecula. The high-pressure misting fans, which can reduce the surrounding air temperature as much as 30 degrees, will be located behind benches on each side of the field.

The idea, Miehl said, is to keep players cool in warm temperatures by spraying a foglike mist that is pumped out by the fans. Each of the oscillating misting fans, which can measure 24 inches or 30 inches across, are fed by a water hose that is used to channel the liquid and convert it into fog via high-pressure pumps.

Miehl likens the sensation of having the mist on a player's back to that of a real fog bank that can roll in off the coast.

"The players like them because they don't get wet," said Miehl, who founded Big Fogg Misting Systems in 1999 after a five-year stint with another company that produced a similar product.

Since Miehl started the company, now headquartered in an industrial park along Ynez Road, he says he has seen business slowly build to the point where he has now surpassed $1 million in annual revenue. Big Fogg Misting Systems clients range from the San Diego Chargers to national collegiate champion University of Southern California Trojans.

While each of the company's customers contacted cite the misting fans as an effective way to cool their players, they also point out that they have known Miehl for years and have developed long-lasting professional bonds that make it easy to do business with him.

"It comes down to relationships," said Tim Davey, assistant director of game operations for the National Football League.

"We've gotten very, very friendly and close over the years. And I rely on him."

So do the Chargers, Trojans and scores of other athletic teams.

"They are very professional in the job they do, and we could use them anywhere we need them," said Dino Dennis, equipment manager for the Trojans, who won their second straight college national championship this year." It can be in the southeast part of the country or Phoenix or Tucson (Ariz.) ---- they are there."

Miehl, who employs about 40 people across the country who serve as subcontractors, said having trained people throughout the nation allows his company to work between 150 and 200 sporting events annually. Although most of Big Fogg Misting System's customers are athletic teams, it also sells its products to the general public.

Some of its other goods include patio misters which start at about $29. Big Fogg's 24-inch misting fans retails for approximately $1,800. Smaller models are also available.

"Most games take two people per sideline ---- one lead technician and another guy to keep things running," said Miehl, who is working his fifth Super Bowl and is scheduled to work next week's NFL Pro Bowl in Hawaii. "We (usually) put three fans behind each bench."

That's something the players appreciate when it's hot.

"Sometimes our game temperatures can get up to 80 or 90 degrees," said Bob Wick, equipment manager for the Chargers, who won the AFC Western Division Championship in 2004.

"The misting fans keeps our guys cool."