Greening The Game

Each year millions of spectators attend sporting events held at venues across the country.  Of these, the Professional Football Championship game is perhaps the most anticipated sporting event in the U.S. This year – for the first time ever – sustainability is an integral component of The Big Game, the weekend activities, and the surrounding community of New Orleans.

In fact, the Professional Football Championship game’s Host Committee has a clear mission, to “integrate environmental ethics into all events while minimizing the carbon footprint left behind by this year’s game.” As part of their program they will be installing 80,000 free CFL light bulbs for New Orleans residents and helping to replant 7,000 trees before kickoff on Sunday’s game between San Francisco and Baltimore.

A growing number of professional and collegiate sporting venues are greening their operations. Safeco Field in Seattle has a recycling mascot who runs around encouraging baseball fans to use the 600 compost and recycling receptacles rather than the 16 receptacles for trash. They’ve reduced their waste to landfill by over 80%.

The Ohio Stadium, with the help of 105,000 college football fans, set a record during one game by diverting over 98% of the waste from landfill; that’s only 447 pounds of trash or 0.004 lbs per person. Compostable and recyclable cups, food containers and silverware are now becoming the standard. It’s also becoming common to recycle cooking oil from the concessions and donate leftover food to charities.

AT&T Park in San Francisco changed the composition of the baseball infield soil, reducing the sand and including more clay, to improve the field’s water retention. They’re now using a computerized irrigation system to conserve water use by 50% on the field.

Waste water is often reduced through low-flow bathroom fixtures, but the Carrier Dome in Syracuse New York is going for the slam dunk. They’re installing a rain water (and snow) capture system to supply 6.6 million gallons of water to the restrooms. A strange twist on the story is that the building codes require the water to be dyed to avoid confusion with drinking water, even though the water will only be used in toilets and urinals. So, officials are considering coloring the water orange, the school’s official color.

Much of the progress is due to the Green Sports Alliance (GSA) which launched in 2011 with 6 professional teams and 5 venues as founding members. The Portland-based nonprofit works with The National Resources Defense Council to develop and share strategies that reduce environmental impact. In just two years the GSA has grown to over 150 teams and venues, from 15 different sports leagues.

We appreciate the amount of energy and resources required to complete projects like these. Especially since here at Kendall-Jackson we’ve worked hard to plant over 5,500 trees, install thousands of high efficiency light bulbs and reduce water usein the vineyard and winery.

Sports and entertainment stadiums certainly have made some great progress. We’d love to hear some your personal experiences at a venue you’ve visited – so let us know what you’ve seen that’s great or not so great.