Innovation in Green-Sports

11th Hour Racing Adds Tennis to Its Green-Sports Offerings

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Newport, Rhode Island-based 11th Hour Racing has developed a well-deserved reputation as a Green-Sports leader by sponsoring and greening world-class sailing racing teams and events, to inspire forward-leaning solutions for ocean health.

It has expanded its purview — and moved on land — by becoming the official sustainability sponsor of the Infosys Hall of Fame Open in Newport.

With the ATP’s final tournament of the 2022 grass court season taking place this week, we take a look at this innovative sponsorship.


After Novak Djokovic won his seventh Wimbledon Gentleman’s singles title Sunday, the men’s tennis scene immediately shifted across the Atlantic to Newport, Rhode Island and the ATP’s Infosys Hall of Fame Open for the final stop on the month-long sprint that is the grass court season. While the beautiful seaside town is well known for being the capital of U.S. sailing as well the home to many a Gilded Age mansion, the annual tournament brings to light its heritage as an early hub of American tennis.

Thanks to a partnership between two Newport neighbors, the International Tennis Hall of Fame and 11th Hour Racing, an innovative ocean health organization that is part of the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Network[1], there is a good chance that tennis fans who attend the week-long tournament and those who watch on ESPN, will learn about the event’s commitment to environmental action.

“The International Hall of Fame is our neighbor in Newport and is an iconic attraction, so it made sense for us to consider coming on board as the sustainability sponsor of their annual tournament,” said Lorraine McKenna, 11th Hour Racing’s sponsorship manager. “For us, we thought this would be a great way to tap into bigger and different audiences, especially when it comes to tennis fans and the ATP players. We started conversations with the Hall of Fame in late 2019 about the 2020 tournament but, of course, COVID had other ideas.”

Lorraine McKenna (Photo credit: 11th Hour Racing)

The 2020 Hall of Fame Open and induction ceremony were canceled due to the pandemic, so the 11th Hour Racing sponsorship kick off was delayed a year. Kevin Anderson, the recently retired big-serving South African with a passion for the environment, was a fitting champion.

“Kevin is a big advocate for reducing plastic ocean waste and for improving ocean health,” McKenna pointed out. “We brought him to Clean Ocean Access, a local grantee of ours that advocates for a clean, healthy ocean that is accessible to all. He was excited by their work as well as our efforts to promote ocean health and to green the Hall of Fame Open.”

The Infosys Hall of Fame Open, with the support of 11th Hour Racing, brought in sustainability consultant Bina Indelicato of EcoEvolutions to lead that greening effort.

“Bina has managed the sustainability program for the U.S. Open for more than a decade, with great results[2],” McKenna related. “We were so excited to be able to add her to our team. She wrote the framework for all of the sustainability initiatives and audits for the tournament here in Newport. Bina is on-site for the entire week, having led pre-event staff trainings and then making sure everything is being done to maximize waste diversion during the tournament.”

Bina Indelicato (Photo credit: EcoEvolutions)

The 12 to 15 thousand fans who will attend the Newport event will likely see the results of Indelicato’s and the rest of the 11th Hour Racing team’s handiwork, with a focus on composting and eliminating single-use plastics. It also supports the tournament in implementing a comprehensive waste management plan for all event operations, including all back of house areas for players, the International Tennis Hall of Fame offices, the museum, and all other special events on property related to the tournament, including this Saturday’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Last year, with 11th Hour Racing’s support, the Infosys Hall of Fame Open achieved its goal of 70 percent waste diversion from the landfill and eliminated the use of plastic straws, bags, and water bottles. This year, the tournament seeks to achieve at least 75 percent waste diversion by bolstering initiatives launched in 2021, including recycling single-use beverage containers and composting food packaging and food scraps[3].

The event will also spotlight its greening actions and more at Wednesday’s second annual Sustainability Day, when it will educate athletes and fans alike through messaging and instructional signage on-site, on social media and more.

“We are also collaborating with the Infosys Hall of Fame Open to help players reach an audience beyond Newport with ocean health messaging,” McKenna said. “Spreading the message via ATP Tour channels and on social media will have a big impact.”

The 30+ full-time staff at the International Tennis Hall of Fame plus 80 or so volunteers for the Infosys Hall of Fame Open have fully bought in to the sustainability mission. The former spends the better part of a year devoted to putting on a sustainable event in July, while the latter implements that plan.

Photo at top: Aerial view of the 2021 Infosys Tennis Hall of Fame Open (Photo credit: International Tennis Hall of Fame)

 


[1] 11th Hour Racing is part of the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Network that includes Schmidt Futures, Schmidt Marine Technology Partners, Schmidt Ocean Institute, The 11th Hour Project, The Schmidt Family Foundation, and Remain Nantucket.

[2] The US Open has achieved waste diversion rates of over 90 percent since 2016.

[3] Additional methods to achieve the Infosys Hall of Fame Open’s sustainability goals in 2022 include:

– Adopting a sustainability charter that all caterers and on-site vendors will abide by.

– Continuing to eliminate single-use plastic bottles, straws, and bags.

– Continuing to track key sustainability indicators, including landfill diversion rate.

– Encouraging the use of refillable water bottles with two on-site water refilling stations.

– Enlisting a volunteer Green Team to direct attendees on proper waste disposal on-site during the tournament.


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