The most difficult sustainability in pro sports isn’t environmental but winning. In the Bay Area the Giants have a vegetable garden and three World Series trophies in the past five years. The A’s occasionally use human organics on their field when the sewers back up at the O.co.
The Warriors are trying to build a new arena in Mission Bay without any cars getting in the way of ambulances.
The 49ers are in a turf war they are losing and sweating out a fix to cool off fans who are broiling in their “Oven Seats.”
The water that turns into ice at SAP becomes more expensive every day during the draught of the century.
The Sacramento Kings new Golden 1 Center will be the first to have a DVS (Displacement Ventilation System) tied to heating and cooling the building. I can hear the fans chanting HVAC, HVAC, HVAC on opening night in October of 2016.
Sports teams and their venues are focusing significant time and resources on being responsible environmental citizens. They are pushing to be leaders in sustainability practices that reduce water and energy usage, mass transit, promote recycling and keep trash made by millions of sports fans out of landfills.
The Beatle’s Octopuses (or is that Octopi) Garden now has competition from sports teams. The Giants opened their garden in the lower center field area in August of 2014. I can hear it now: “batting for the Giants, Al Arugula. How about “Giants acquire reliever Octavio Broccolini from the New Jersey Garden Staters of the Environmental League.”
Sonoma Raceway in conjunction with concessionaire Levy’s Restaurants grows tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and fresh herbs on a half acre near where the cars go zooming by. The heck with lawnmowers and all that engine screaming noise at Sonoma, they have a flock of sheep taking care of keeping the grass cut and then using their own internal fertilizer to keep the area green.
Teams are striving to receive LEED Platinum status for their stadiums, arenas and ballparks from the Green Building Council. I’m just thinking that many teams’ fans would rather receive a championship trophy from the Commissioner then a mounted LEED Platinum Plaque in franchise lobby. “Hey look kids we are LEED certified but finished 18 games out of first.”
The following Turnkey Sports industry poll shows what team executives are thinking when it comes to the Greening of their venues:
Which of the following is the biggest benefit of the “Greening” of sports organizations?
Improving Community Relations- 36%
Reduce Operating Expenses- 18%
Differentiating the brand- 14%
Attracting new Sponsors- 13%
Improving Fan engagement- 10%
Not sure- 9%
In the midst of solar panels, new energy saving gizmos, recycling, sustainability, mass transit solutions, water conservation and other Going Green initiatives I wonder why teams, leagues, concessionaires are always patting themselves on the back. They seem to skip any discussion of the massive parking lot and the thousands of spaces that are bumper to bumper full of SUV's, minivans, big ol' trucks and other petrol guzzling vehicles who have driven from around the block or another state.
Just think about the carbon footprints this fall left by the humongously sized trucks that will be parked at football stadiums on Saturdays and Sundays. I have talked to colleagues in the venue business and their anecdotal nonscientific response is that anywhere from 35%-60% of parked vehicles at football games are of the large truck/SUV variety. If teams could just harness the fire smoke and exhaust from tailpipes and tailgate parties into some form of alternative energy we might really have something to be green with envy over.