2014 promises to be the biggest year in the green sports world to date. Sustainability (and greenwashing) figured prominently in the run-up to two global, mega events taking place next year; the Winter Olympics in Russia, and the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Weather will be a hot topic at the first cold weather Super Bowl. GreenSportsBlog takes a look at the 2014 sports calendar from a green perspective.
FEBRUARY 2: SUPER BOWL XLVIII AT METLIFE STADIUM, EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ
The NFL has been greening the Super Bowl for years, through aggressive recycling efforts and renewable energy certificate (RECs) purchases and the 2014 Super Bowl is no different. As reported in an earlier GSB post, the NFL is working with PSE&G to purchase RECs to offset all of the carbon associated with the game. And the league is encouraging fans take mass transit (light rail and shuttle vans) to the game instead of driving. Even the High Rollers will have to think hard about taking the train to the game as car service drop-off and pick-up will be banned. Tailgating is also prohibited (the idea!). While traffic flow and security were no doubt the main reasons behind this move, more folks using mass transit will reduce transportation-related emissions. Finally, the weather at the first Northeast, outdoor Super Bowl will be front page, above-the-fold type news. Hopefully, the weather-related stories in the 6 hours of pre-game programming will mention climate change. Then again, (Climate Change Denying) Fox is televising the game so expect someone to say “it’s 28°, brrrrr!! So much for global warming!”.
FEBRUARY 7-23: XXII WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES, SOCHI, RUSSIA
The Russian government promised the Sochi Olympics would be first Zero Waste Olympics but that promise has been broken by dumping waste from Olympics-related construction projects. While much of the political coverage from Sochi will rightly focus on Russia’s harsh anti-gay laws (President Obama announced today that openly gay tennis legend Billie Jean King will be a part of the US delegation to Sochi), I hope NBC devotes some of its 8 gazillion hours of coverage to Russia’s Olympic greenwashing.
APRIL 5-7: NCAA MEN’S FINAL FOUR, ARLINGTON, TX
Atlanta made recycling and e-recycling the centerpiece of its 2013 Final Four sustainability efforts, with 33 tons of recycling and 14,000+ electronics collected. The 2014 Final Four, to be played at the massive AT&T Stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys) in Arlington, is expected to do more in the way of recycling/e-cycling than did Atlanta. That’s all well and good but what does it say that the NCAA is playing its crown jewel event in the largest city (pop. 380,000) in the country WITHOUT MASS TRANSIT? That lack of mass transit is due, in large part, because funds that could’ve gone in that direction instead went to help pay for AT&T Stadium and the Ballpark at Arlington, home of MLB’s Texas Rangers.
Aerial view of AT&T Stadium, home of the 2014 Men’s Final Four and the Dallas Cowboys. There is no way to get to the stadium via mass transit.
JUNE 12-JULY 13: FIFA WORLD CUP, BRAZIL (12 CITIES)
For the first time since 1950, the FIFA World Cup, the world’s most popular sporting event, will be hosted by 5-time champion Brazil, perhaps the world’s most soccer (futbol)-mad nation. Brazil is the 5th largest country by area in the world and, largely due to increased air travel miles during the event, this World Cup’s carbon footprint will almost double vs. that of World Cup 2010 in South Africa (25th largest country by area, roughly 1/7th the size of Brazil). FIFA has pledged to offset all of the carbon emissions generated by the World Cup, with the cost estimated at $USD2.5 million. Will FIFA follow through on its promise? Per a December 10 story by Joanna Foster on ThinkProgress.com, “none of the offsetting projects will be announced until next year, however, and it remains to be seen if FIFA will carry through on its pre-game commitments after the World Cup spotlight has moved on from Brazil.”
The news is much more clearly positive on the stadium construction front. An innovative green financing mechanism offered by the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) helped developers achieve sustainability (i.e. LEED) goals through low interest rates and longer repayment periods.
Copa Verde, the ambitious plan in which 10 of the 12 stadiums are pursuing LEED certification, and the largest coordinated green building effort ever, is the result. The brand new Estadio Nacional de Brasilia is the first stadium to be awarded LEED Platinum status. Iconic Maracanã Stadium in Rio, host of the 1950 and 2014 World Cup Final , has been renovated to include a 390 kw solar panel system on its roof. And Coca-Cola plastic bottles are being repurposed for use in 6,000+ seats.
Estadio Nacional do Brasilia, opened this year in advance of the 2014 World Cup. Solar panels line the roof of the state-of-the-art stadium.
In addition to these Mega Sports Events, there are two Green-Sports related summits that are calendar-worthy:
JUNE 25-27: COLLEGIATE SPORTS SUSTAINABILITY SUMMIT, BOULDER, CO
GreenSportsBlog, as evidenced by our “Greening The Big 10” series, is a big believer in the power of college sports to be a leader in the Green-Sports Movement. The 4th annual Collegiate Sports Sustainability Summit will demonstrate how athletic and sports programs can be high profile leaders of overall campus greening movements. Registration opens in January.
JULY 21-24: GREEN SPORTS ALLIANCE SUMMIT, SANTA CLARA, CA
Staying with the summit theme, the Green Sports Alliance will host its 4th annual confab in July near the set-to-open Levi’s Stadium, new home of the San Francisco 49’ers. I attended this year’s summit in Brooklyn and was impressed by its breadth and substance. For the 2014 summit, I’d like to see a greater emphasis on how to involve fans (both in stadium and remotely) in greening activities. Early-bird registration is now open.
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