Membership-based GOAL (Green Operations and Advanced Leadership) sustainability platform helps a growing roster of sports and entertainment venues operate in ESG-forward ways. It is uniquely qualified to do so, given that its founders represent a Who’s Who of the sports stadium/arena and sustainable design worlds: Leading sports and entertainment venue developer Oak View Group, the Atlanta Hawks & State Farm Arena, Fenway Sports Group, and green building architect Jason F. McLennan.
That roster growth was highlighted earlier this month when GOAL announced it had rounded out the membership of its Founding Circle — 25 stadiums, arenas, and organizations from around the world who have joined the fight for social impact, climate action and responsible change.
Membership Has its Privileges.
So intoned a 1987 American Express ad campaign that became iconic, implying that AmEx cardmembers would have access to a more luxurious lifestyle.
It says here that GOAL is providing its 25 Founding Circle member stadiums, arenas, and organizations with a different sort of privilege: The honor to make a meaningful, positive difference on a troika of seemingly intractable but solvable (or at least improvable) issues: social, climate and economic injustice.
While the goals (sorry for the pun) are lofty, GOAL’s approach is deliberate and data driven.
Each Founding Circle member uses GOAL to chart a tangible, measurable path forward across 50+ impactful Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) objectives crafted from a 12-month baseline of environmental metrics and an automatically calculated carbon footprint. The categories include:
- Environment: Energy & Scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG Emissions, Water Efficiency & Quality, and Waste Reduction.
- Social: Health & Wellness, Food & Nutrition, and Diversity & Inclusion.
- Governance: ESG Strategy & Commitment, Community Resiliency, Visitor Engagement & Education, and Sustainable Partnerships.
GOAL’s engaging data visualization tool, powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), allows Founding Circle members to compare their own performance against that of their peers.
“GOAL helps venues learn and employ best practices in vendor-supply chain engagement, community resiliency, and more,” said Oak View Group sustainability director Kristen Fulmer, “Doing so allows them to be transparent about their sustainability journey, by engaging fans in-venue and on social media, as well as their employees and even media.”
The 25-member Founding Circle roster includes Chicago’s legendary 108-year-old Wrigley Field, along with modern, state-of-the-art venues like Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Co-op Live in Manchester, England, and Subaru Park in suburban Philadelphia¹.
“We are excited to implement GOAL at Subaru Park as a way to monitor day-to-day performance and stay on the front lines of sustainability efforts across sports and entertainment venues,” Philadelphia Union President Tim McDermott offered. “By utilizing the dashboard, we’ll better quantify our impact through our Zero Landfill initiative. It will also help us understand how we can continue to build upon our local food production and tree planting efforts as well as our GOAL commitments.”
Tim McDermott (Photo credit: Philadelphia Union)
Not all of the Founding Circle members are stadiums and arenas.
Chip Ganassi Racing, with a heritage in Indy Cars and now making a strong sustainability statement with a GMC Hummer EV in Extreme E, is the first motorsports organization in the Founding Circle. The company’s Pittsburgh headquarters and Indianapolis shop of course have carbon footprints; theirs are just more weighted towards Scope 3 and less on Scopes 1 & 2 than are venues.
While some might be skeptical of GOAL having an auto racing company as a Founding Circle member, Fulmer sees it differently: “We intentionally avoid ‘qualifications’ of GOAL members to ensure that we are inclusive and share ideas throughout the sports industry. Giving all voices in sports — including auto racing — the chance to be heard and be part of the GOAL movement is crucial. We’ll all be the better for it.”
Chip Ganassi, owner and CEO of Chip Ganassi Racing, is all in on GOAL: “Joining the Founding Circle is the latest step in our company’s efforts to establish a motorsports industry-standard for measuring and reducing our carbon footprint. We’re committed to emerging as leaders of authentic sustainable action and look forward to leveraging the GOAL Network to equip us throughout our sustainability journey.”
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Indianapolis shop (Photo credit: Chip Ganassi Racing)
To Chris Granger, President of OVG360, the 25 Founding Circle members are the vanguard of what will…what must become a much bigger movement.
“OVG is proud to support this incredible connection of like-minded venues committed to immediate climate action,” he asserted. “We look forward to working with this group, and all venues, leagues, conferences, universities, and organizations committed to true sustainability and lasting social impact. We have no time to waste.”
When Granger says all venues, he really means it. Oak View Group decided to make GOAL available to any venue, not just their properties. In fact, 15 of the 25 Founding Circle members are not part of the OVG fold. The important thing, according to Fulmer, is that “they want to be part of our movement.”
Granger is also very serious about GOAL’s ‘move at the speed of light’ ethos: It hopes to reach 100 members by the end of this year. The enthusiastic response by the Founding Circle is a terrific testimonial for prospective new members.
“Everyone has been incredibly generous with their time to share lessons learned with each other,” appreciated Fulmer. “There is a real hunger for collaboration around enacting real sustainability solutions. And so, we’ve gotten more comfortable with the reality of starting with bite-sized tactics and building to big, impactful solutions.”
Chris Granger (Photo credit: Oak View Group)
Kristen Fulmer (Photo credit: Kristen Fulmer)
GSB’s Take: I have often been critical of the Green-Sports movement for not having the ambition to meet the scale and urgency of the climate crisis and the many other social problems that go with it.
That’s why GOAL’s plan to triple its membership by the end of this year caught my attention. Setting that audacious objective is the first step to achieving it. One thing for sure: If they set a more pedestrian target, there is no way they would get to the mountaintop.
GSB is betting on GOAL; we believe that its data-driven, simple, collaborative, approach is the way to get venues and other organizations to take that first step.
¹ The remainder of the GOAL Founding Members Circle roster: Acrisure Arena (Palm Springs, CA area), AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX), Budweiser Gardens (London, ON, Canada), Chip Ganassi Racing (Pittsburgh, PA), Citi Field (New York, NY), Fenway Sports Group (Boston, MA), Footprint Center (Phoenix, AZ), Gainbridge Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, IN), Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, CA), MGM Music Hall (Boston, MA), Miami Heat, Moda Center (Portland, OR), Moody Center at University of Texas-Austin, Mullett Center at Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ), PPG Paints Arena (Pittsburgh, PA), Prudential Center (Newark, NJ), Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse (Cleveland, OH), State Farm Arena (Atlanta, GA), UBS Arena (Belmont, NY), and Xcel Energy Center (St. Paul, MN
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