Green Sports Venues

Safeco Field Sees The (LED) Light; Ohio State Hoops Goes Zero Waste


Major League Baseball has yet to have a stadium illuminated by energy efficient LED lights. Ohio State’s Zero Waste program is limited to football only. In both cases, change is on its way.


As reported by From The Corner of Edgar and Davea blog dedicated to the Seattle Mariners, Safeco Field, a green pioneer among Major League Baseball (MLB) stadia, is taking the sustainable lead again. When the 2015 season opens in seven weeks, Safeco will be the first to be lit by energy efficient LED lights from Planled (Federal Way, WA) and KMW, Inc. (Korea.)

Sports venues were initially slow to adopt LEDs since light quality was subpar initially, both from a player’s and especially from a HDTV broadcaster’s and viewer’s perspective. Light quality has since been improved dramatically such that everything looks crisper and more vibrant on HDTV, with no flicker, a big early problem. A team of lighting experts recently visited Safeco Field to check lighting levels at different points on the field. The new lights passed that test with flying colors, meeting or exceeding MLB requirements across the board.



Lighting expert checking the quality of the light from Safeco Field’s (home of the Seattle Mariners) new LED system, the first in Major League Baseball. (Photo credit: From The Corner of Edgar and Dave blog)

On energy efficiency, LEDs blow old metal halide lights away like a King Felix fastball–they reduce electricity consumption by up to 70 percent, and each fixture should last 40-50 years or even more. Compare that to the three year lifespan of metal halides and you see that, with light quality issues having been resolved, LEDs are the wave of the future for all sports venues.

That future is happening right now. As readers of GreenSportsBlog know, LEDs have recently been installed across the sports world–at University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals and last week’s Super Bowl XLIX, LA’s Staples Center, home of the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers and the NHL’s Kings, and at London’s Stamford Bridge, home to Premier League leading Chelsea FC. But MLB had been a laggard–until now.

It was been a great January for Ohio State University Athletics: The University announced it was extending its “Zero Waste” initiative from Ohio Stadium (aka The Big Horseshoe), legendary home of Buckeyes football, to the newish basketball arena, the Schottenstein Center.

Oh yeah, there also was the small matter of the the football team winning the first-ever college football playoff, soundly defeating Oregon to claim the national championship.


Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 10.35.23 AM

Schottenstein Center, home of Ohio State University Basketball (Columbus, OH), will become a Zero Waste facility (diverting at least 90 percent of waste from landfill) over the next two years. (Photo Credit: The Lantern)


That football national championship story has gotten a lot of ink so we’ll focus on Zero Waste.

According to a story in The Lantern (OSU student newspaper), the Zero Waste program at Schottenstein Center began in January, with $50,000 in funding from The President and Provost’s Council on Sustainability. Those funds are being used to:

  • Purchase recycling bins for the arena
  • Establish a system that captured food scraps for composting
  • Develop education materials and promotional materials

The expectation is that Schottenstein Center will achieve a diversion-from-landfill rate of 70 percent by the end of this season and get to 90 percent, the diversion rate needed to claim Zero Waste, by the end of next season.

Ohio State is a leader in on-campus Zero Waste”games–it launched the effort at the Horseshoe (capacity: 106,000) in 2011 and has been Zero Waste for the entire season each of the last two years.  According to the university, over 95 percent of the waste produced and collected from Ohio Stadium during the 2014 championship season was diverted from landfill.

Where does the food waste from Ohio Stadium and now the Schottenstein Center go for composting, you may ask?

With the help of Zero Waste volunteers, it is transported to Price Farms Organic, a composting facility in Delaware, Ohio. The waste is eventually turned into a mulch called Stadium Scarlet, and is available for purchase at $40 per cubic yard. Given the intensity of the Ohio State fan base, seen first hand at the Ohio State-Rutgers game this past October (if you are a college football fan, Ohio Stadium must be on your Bucket List — amazing atmosphere — and 95 percent diversion rate!!), I am sure Stadium Scarlet sells out almost as quickly as the football and basketball games do.


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  1. […] number of stadia arenas hosting Zero-Waste (i.e. diversion from landfill of 90% or more of waste) games. Hard data isn’t available as […]

  2. […] program. This goes back to 2011 or 2012. We were introduced to Scott Jenkins, who, at the time, ran Safeco Field on behalf of the Seattle […]

  3. […] This goes back to 2011 or 2012. We were introduced to Scott Jenkins, who at the time ran Safeco Field on behalf of the Seattle […]

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