Mega Events

The Greening (Or Lack Thereof) of Super Bowl XLIX


For those of you sick of “Deflategate”–and who isn’t by this point?—GreenSportsBlog is the place to be for important, if under-reported, Super Bowl news! And that is the story of the Greening (or Lack Thereof) of Super Bowl XLIX.


“Green 22!…1!…Omaha!…10!…0!…Omaha!…2!…120!”

I know what you’re thinking: Why is GreenSportsBlog reprising how Peyton Manning calls out signals for a play when the Denver Broncos fell two steps short of making it to Sunday’s XLIXth Super Bowl in Glendale, AZ?

We’re not.

The numbers and words listed above reflect key milestones in the Greening of Super Bowl XLIX. Here’s what we mean:

Green 22!: This is the 22nd year the NFL has run some sort of greening program around the premier event on the US sports calendar. The league’s Super Bowl greening efforts, started back in the 90s, and continuing in Arizona this week include:

  • Generating electricity used by the stadium during the game by wind and/or solar power. Sunday’s game will be powered by wind generated by the Salt River Project (SRP).
  • Neutralizing the carbon emissions generated by the game and its ancillary programs by the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)
  • Donation of tons of uneaten food to non-profits that feed the hungry.
  • Recycling at the game and at the Media Center.

1!: Super Bowl XLIX marks the first time the game will be played under energy efficient LED lights from Ephesus Lighting.

The Arizona Cardinals, host of Sunday’s game, got their LED lights feet wet during the regular season and realized a 75% reduction in lighting energy consumption. The adoption of LED lighting at sports arenas/stadia is poised to explode as concerns about light quality by broadcasters have largely been overcome.



University of Phoenix Stadium, host of Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX . This will be the first Super Bowl lit by energy efficient LED lights, from Ephesus Lighting. (Photo credit:


Omaha!: OK, Omaha does come from Peyton Manning’s signal calling routine and has nothing to do with greening. Just wanted to make the string of numbers sound “football-y”

10!: For the last 10 years, the NFL has run an Urban Forestry program that plants trees in and around the host city. This is particularly important for a city like Phoenix, which is in a (very) water-challenged, arid, hot (and getting hotter) environment.

The NFL and local government officials have focused on the planting of indigenous trees. Phoenix City Council member Bill Gates (not THAT Bill Gates) put it this way, in a December, 2014 interview with Andrew Bernier, Science Correspondent for KJZZ-FM in Phoenix: “We’re doing everything we can to conserve water. That’s why going with the indigenous trees is a real plus.”

0!:…As in Zero-Waste. The Super Bowl game itself will not be Zero-Waste. Why not? Sports stadia across the country, as well as the Waste Management Phoenix Open, also taking place this weekend a few zip codes away, have proven able to divert over 90% of food waste from landfill.

But the Phoenix Super Bowl Host Committee does deserve some credit as it committed to a Zero-Waste Super Bowl Central, the 12-block array of beer gardens, concerts and other activities in downtown Phoenix in the weeks leading up to the game. Recycling and composting will do the trick. I bet that the next time the Super Bowl comes to Glendale (the soonest would be 2020), the game will be Zero-Waste.

Omaha!: See Omaha reference above.

2!: As in this is the 2nd Super Bowl E-waste recycling program, sponsored by Verizon. The Super Bowl XLIX “E-Waste” Recycling Rally took place on January 20. The public discarded tons of old computers, televisions, cell phones, batteries, and, chargers (Why is there not a universal standard for phone chargers?

That would eliminate untold tons of waste.) While I applaud Verizon for doing the right thing on E-Waste, a massive environmental and human rights problem, at the Super Bowl and beyond, I’d be more bullish if the company wasn’t a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the powerful lobbying group that advocates, among other things, climate change denial.

C’mon Verizon, you’re better than that, aren’t you?

Vz E-waste Recycling

A sea of discarded consumer electronics dropped off at the Super Bowl XLIX “E-Waste Recycling Rally”, sponsored by Verizon, on January 20 (Photo credit:


120!: …as in 120 million—the estimated number of Americans who will watch the Seahawks defeat the Patriots* on NBC Sunday evening, by far the biggest TV audience of any program.

Many millions will also watch six hours of pre-game coverage. Will NBC devote any of its ten hours of air time to the Greening of Super Bowl XLIX? It would be deflating** to this reporter if they don’t.


* If there is sports justice in the world, it will be Seahawks 24, Patriots 20.
** OK, one lame “Deflategate” pun isn’t so bad, is it?


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Kevin Whilden of Sustainable Surf

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  1. Great blog Lew. Very informative. But Go Pats!

  2. Thanks, Dave, appreciate it. I am truly sorry you’ve gone over to the Dark Side :). Go ‘Hawks!

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