Green Sports Alliance Summit

2023 GSA Seattle Summit Recap


Climate Pledge Arena, the host of last month’s Green Sports Alliance’s 13th Summit, was the event’s shining star. The spectacular Oak View Group property showed that it dots most green-sports venue i’s, crosses its green-sports venue t’s, and invents some new green-sports venue i’s and t’s to dot/cross. The home of the Seattle Kraken and Seattle Storm provided an inspirational backdrop for the two-day Summit. Here are some of the highlights of bit Green-Sports actions and ideas and some of the most memorable quotes.


I’ve been on countless stadium and arena tours in the decade since I started writing GreenSportsBlog but the Climate Pledge Arena tour prior to the Summit’s opening session was next level. Brianna Treat, the welcoming, informative and open sustainability director of the Seattle Kraken who led the tour, shared the arena’s green bona fides and goals in a matter of fact manner that made the accomplishments to date all the more impressive:

As of now, we have zero Scope 1 emissions¹ as the entire arena is run on electric. And we’ve offset all of our Scope 2 emissions thanks to our purchases of green energy. Scope 3 emissions from our supply chain are our biggest challenge. To rein those in, we’re grabbing data on all of our merchandise sales and fan travel-related emissions. And for concerts, we track how the talent got here. And we track food and waste travel. For Kraken games, we measure opponent travel-related emissions to and from the arena as well that of our own players and staff.

At the merchandise store, Kraken jerseys from the Adidas’ prime blue line are all made from plastic ocean waste through the company’s Parley for the Oceans partnership.

The Living Wall (shown in the photo at top) on the west concourse and the Signatory Wall on the east tell the Climate Pledge Arena story to fans in ways that get many to stop and take the time to think. The Living Wall is 1,700 square feet of greenery fed by rainwater…Our horticultural team is in twice weekly to manage the wall. The Signatory Wall informs fans about The Climate Pledge — a commitment by signatory companies to go Net Zero on carbon by 2040, 10 years before the target date set by the Paris Climate Agreement.

“Some of the collected rainwater is used by the Zambonis to manicure the ice. And the players say they prefer the rainwater-based ice, saying that it gives a more natural feel.”

Brianna Treat (Photo credit: Seattle Kraken)


Aileen McManamon, the Founder and Managing Partner of 5T Sports Group, a global sports management firm that works to create triple bottom line returns for professional sports leagues, teams and major events, recently took the Green Sports Alliance board chair baton from Scott Jenkins². Presiding over her first GSA Summit, McManamon kicked off the first day with a quote from Solitaire Townsend, founder and CEO of Futerra, that really resonated with me:

“With climate change, winning slowly is losing.”

Amen, Aileen (and Solitaire!), AMEN!


Aileen McManamon (Photo credit: Alabastro Photography)


Environmental and climate injustice — the harsh reality that the most devastating impacts of environmental degradation and the climate crisis come down hardest on those who are least able to adapt — has been discussed at several prior Green Sports Alliance Summits. This panel showed that, thanks to a partnership between the Duwamish River Community Coalition, the Sounders (MLS) and the Kraken, the Seattle sports community is starting to walk the environmental and climate justice walk.

Paulina Lopez, executive director of the Duwamish River Community Coalition, set the scene:

The South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods that border the Duwamish River and that we serve are the perfect storm of environmental and climate injustice. It is taking a tremendous toll on under-resourced, communities of color and indigenous people. Air pollution, from the nearby airport as well as the shipping industry, is at a level multiple times that of the wealthier areas in the city. The people have no access to parks or other green spaces. The results are not surprising: Average life spans in South Park and Georgetown are 13 years lower than in the wealthy neighborhoods.

We can’t play sports well if we’re not healthy!” 

Maya Mendoza, COO of the Seattle Sounders:

It’s not enough to just swoop in, do a soccer clinic in the community, and then swoop back out. So, we are in those areas for the long haul, trying to figure out ways to help.

For the Sounders, environmental justice is core to our business.

Kids who are 11 to 14 now — the end of Gen Z — will over-indez on supporting brands that really get and try to do something about climate. Gen Alpha kids, those who are now between four and ten, will go much deeper: Forget recycling; they’ll ask why do we create trash in the first place?

“There is no true wellness without justice”


Paulina Lopez (l) and Maya Mendoza (Photo credit: Alabastro Photography)


“People are 246% more likely to buy a product if it is endorsed by an athlete or a musician.”

Six EcoAthletes Champions — Riley Bahr (cross-country/track), Alayna Burns (field hockey), Ashleigh Helms (pole vault), Jeremy Casebeer (beach volleyball), Kendall Otridge (indoor volleyball), and Lina Taylor (beach volleyball) — as well as other athletes who were in attendance stand ready to help!

Kaan Yalkin (Photo credit: Alabastro Photography)



Samantha Johnson, SVP of Sales at Allegiant Stadium, home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, discussed how the greening of the venue helped generate significant new revenue.

Sustainability generated over $4 million for Allegiant Stadium in 2022!

“I sell private events at the stadium and, after price, the thing I get asked about most about our building is how sustainable it is and will become.”
Samantha Johnson (Photo credit Alabastro Photography)


Governor Inslee, who briefly ran for the Democratic Party’s 2020 nomination for President on a climate-forward platform, offered this anecdote.

I actually played in this building — Climate Pledge Arena, the first net zero arena, how cool is that? — in its earlier incarnation…In fact, I played in the 1969 state high school championship basketball game here. I remember it like it was yesterday. We were ahead by a point late and I, as the team’s best defender, was guarding the other team’s best scorer. Everybody knew he was gonna take the last shot and I was locked in on him…basically I was in his jersey. 

So, the guy goes up for the shot and I go up to block it. It was like everything was moving in slow motion…I could see that I was gonna block it and that we would win the game and I’d be carried off the court on the shoulders of my teammates…Except that when I went up, he didn’t. He ball-faked me and I fell for it. He waited for me to land and then he went up for the shot, made it and they won it.

The photo in the paper the next day was of me in midair, with the other guy standing on the court, holding the ball, waiting for me to come down.

I have that photo framed on the wall across from my desk so I see it every day. It is a lesson that we have to stay humble, in sports, and politics and to never assume victory. And that is especially true in the climate fight.

To make sure that we maximize our effectiveness of our climate actions, we need sports to continue to up its game.

“Thank you all for continuing to use the megaphone that sports provides you to evangelize for the benefits of healthy climate.”

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, speaking at the Green Sports Alliance Summit. No, we don’t have the photo of Inslee’s ‘non-block’ in the 1969 State Championship high school basketball game (Photo credit: Alabastro Photography)


Strive by STX is the climate action arm of STX Group, a Dutch company that trades environmental commodities in an effort to ‘connect the dots in the global decarbonization economy’. Wentworth, who heads Strive’s US arm, did not sugar coat the state of the climate crisis.

We need to peak global emissions by 2025, which is 18 months away and then we need to reduce by 40 percent by 2030. How do we accelerate progress? We can do it but you know what, the world made absolutely zero progress on emissions in 2022 and that really pissed me off.

The longer the world delays on climate — and that includes sports — the cost of inaction and action only goes up. So, let’s go!

Austin Wentworth (Photo credit: Alabastro Photography)


The Summit’s last event — a brainstorm among attendees arrayed at 15 roundtables on the Climate Pledge Arena floor — went BIG!

That’s not hyperbole: Its goal was to come up with big, difference-making Green-Sports ideas. Led by Longtime Seattle-area sportscaster Jen Mueller emceed it while Jeff Kunowski, associate director, Innovation Programs, Global Sports Institute at Arizona State University, and yours truly offered ideas along with the attendees.

One suggested, to sustained applause, that all sports teams have at least one female executive in the C-suite, with the idea being that women are much more likely to advocate for sustainability from the broad ESG perspective than their male counterparts.

And then I offered up this:

OK, for a big idea, let’s go with the NFL. I mean, in US sports, there’s the NFL…and there’s everything else. Imagine we could create a contest among the NFL’s 32 team fan bases to find the greenest fan base. We’ll leave the logistics of the contest on the side for a minute. But let’s talk about the prize, the team’s fan base that wins earns its team an extra 3rd round pick in the next NFL Draft. So, environmentally friendly behavior at scale helps my team get better on the field? Where do I sign up?

Selling something that’s BIG takes as much time and energy as something that’s small. We’re behind in the climate game so we have to go BIG!
Yours truly talking big Green-Sports ideas (Photo credit: Alabastro Photography)

What do you think of this NFL Draft Big Idea? What Big Green-Sports idea(s) do you have? Feel free to post them in the comments or email me at

¹ Scope 1 emissions = Direct emissions that are owned or controlled by a company; Scope 2 emissions = Indirect emissions from purchased electricity, heating and cooling; Scope 3 emissions = All other emissions, including from supply chain, fan travel, etc.
² Scott Jenkins, former GSA Board Chair, was General Manager of Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the first LEED Platinum football stadium in the USA.

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