Happy New Year to you, GreenSportsBlog readers! Thank you for your comments, suggestions and consistent support throughout 2015. The intersection of Green & Sports was busier and had more OOMPH than ever last year. More teams, leagues and events were greening, in more sophisticated ways, than ever before. What does 2016 hold? More greening, across more sports? Definitely. More coverage by mainstream media? That is the big unknown as we head into 2016. With that in mind, here’s “What 2 Watch 4”
The Green-Sports calendar is so busy, we easily could’ve highlighted 25-30 events in our “What 2 Watch 4” column. In the interest of your time, dear reader, we limited it to just 6.
January 18-31: Australian Open Tennis, Melbourne
Climate change’s role in the extreme weather (oppressively scalding heat, drought, etc.) that has bedeviled the Australian Open in recent years has been openly discussed and, for the most part, accepted Down Under. Tennis Australia, the governing body that runs the event, often termed “Happy Grand Slam,” is working hard towards making it the “Happy, Green Grand Slam.”
- Margaret Court Arena became Australia’s first LEED certified (Gold) sports venue last fall; the renovation of Rod Laver Arena, the event’s centre court, is expected to also result in a LEED designation.
- Public Transport Victoria offers free access to mass transit to tournament ticket holders (all Grand Slams should do this–are you listening, NYC MTA?)
- Water usage reduction during the tournament has been reduced by 25% since 2010, in part through installation of above ground water tanks to capture rainwater.
Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne, the first LEED Certified sports stadium in Australia. (Photo credit: Idonthavethemap.com)
Tennis Australia has done a very good job but it’s not nearly complete. To take the Greening of the Australian Open to the next level, Tennis Australia must track public awareness of said greening–and then increase it–through much greater coverage on national and global broadcast and cable outlets. As you will see, the next, somewhat bigger event on our list also faces the same challenge.
February 7: Super Bowl 50, Santa Clara, CA
The NFL has been greening the Super Bowl, in one form or another, since 1994. But The Bay Area Super Bowl 50* Host Committee is setting the green bar higher than any of its predecessors–by delivering the greenest Super Bowl ever. As detailed in two 2015 GreenSportsBlog posts (click here and here), the Committee intends to deliver on its promise through its Net Positive plan, which rests on these 4 pillars:
- Reducing its impact on climate change
- Using resources and materials responsibly
- Inspiring fans to embrace sustainability personally
- Leaving a positive legacy for the region
The pillars, understandably, focus mainly on the sustainability of the game in Santa Clara along with the festivities the week before at Super Bowl City in San Francisco. This is how it should be and Super Bowl 50 is well on its way to meeting its aggressive sustainability targets&.
Of course the Super Bowl’s impact goes far beyond the Bay Area. Will the CNN’s, ESPN’s, and the NFL Networks of the world give oxygen to Net Positive in the run up to the game?. Will Net Positive be featured on and/or mentioned by CBS on Game Day? These are the 125 million+ (the expected TV audience for the Super Bowl) questions.
Early May: Promotion for Forest Green Rovers?
Forest Green Rovers (FGR), a club in the 5th level of English soccer/football, should be well known to readers of GreenSportsBlog as the Greenest Team in Sports. Executing the vision of its owner, Dale Vince (also Founder/Owner of Ecotricity, a British wind and solar company), the club has greened its operations to an unprecedented degree, from vegan-only concession stands to an organic pitch mowed by a solar-powered “Mow-Bot.”
Where does FGR go from here? Well, the best way for FGR to go, from Green-Sports as well as on-field perspectives, is UP–as in promotion up to the 4th division. The teams that finish 1st and 2nd in the 5th division (Vanarama Conference National) get promoted for the next season to the 4th division (League 2).
Promotion would mean a bigger audience for FGR and their breakthrough greening efforts, with the hope being that more clubs will follow the model Vince & Company have built.
Forest Green Rovers currently sits in 2nd place, 4 points^ behind Cheltenham Town as the season is just beyond the mid-point. A 1st place finish means automatic promotion. Clubs that finish 2nd-5th enter a playoff for the other promotion slot. Since energy efficiency is key tenet of FGR’s sustainability efforts, it would be much more energy efficient for FGR to finish 1st and avoid the extra energy exertion of a stressful playoff tournament.
June 10-July 10: UEFA Euro 2016 Soccer Tournament, at 10 stadia throughout France
The European (Euro) Championship is the 2nd biggest soccer tournament in the world, behind only the World Cup in audience size and interest level. UEFA, governing body of European soccer, has put sustainability squarely in the spotlight for Euro 2016 with an aggressive carbon footprint management/life-cycle assessment program, developed in partnership with consulting firm Quantis International.
Transportation, responsible for roughly 75% of Euro 2016’s carbon footprint is the event’s biggest environmental challenge. Thus UEFA decided not to allow the parking of private vehicles adjacent to all 10 stadia. This ban, paired with dramatically increased mass transit (intercity rail, metro and buses) will, UEFA believes, greatly reduce the numbers of cars miles driven to/from the tournament. Can you imagine organizers of a big sports event in the US banning private car parking? I can’t. But, if this is successful at Euro 2016, maybe we will have to lift our imaginations.
Solar paneled Stade Allianz Riviera in Nice, FR, one of 10 stadia that will host Euro 2016 this summer. Private cars will not be allowed to park at any of the stadia, increasing mass transit usage. (Photo credit: Allianz)
June 28-30: Green Sports Alliance Summit, Houston, TX
Portland, OR. Seattle, WA. Brooklyn, NY. Santa Clara, CA. Chicago, IL.
What two things do all of these cities have in common?
- They played host to one of the first five Green Sports Alliance Summits.
- They are located in Blue States (i.e. states that traditionally vote for the Democratic nominee in Presidential elections)
By choosing Minute Maid Park in Houston to host the 2016 Summit, the Alliance ends its Blue State streak as Texas is among the Reddest states in the country–the Lone Star State last voted for a Democrat for President in 1976 (Carter).
If the Alliance had selected, say, Denver or Boston as Summit host, that would reinforce the perception that Green-Sports, as a subset of the overall Green Movement, is only for left-leaning states, cities and folks. Planting the Green-Sports flag in Houston demonstrates the perception is NOT the reality. Green-Sports–or Green ANYTHING, for that matter–is not solely the purview of the left. Green (Sports, ANYTHING) is a mainstream movement, supported by Democrats, Independents and, yes, Republicans alike. Don’t believe me? According to a poll conducted in August by three leading Republican pollsters, 56% of GOP voters think the climate is changing and that humans are contributing a lot/a little to the change (as compared to 73% of all voters).
Now, was Texas’ Red State-ness a factor in the Alliance’s choice of Houston? I have no idea. I do know the Alliance assiduously avoids the politics of green/climate change. I also know that decamping in the capital city of the US oil industry in a (bright) Red state is a master stroke.
August: US Bank Stadium Opens, New Green Home of the Minnesota Vikings
CHS Field in St. Paul, MN, home of the St. Paul Saints of the Independent Baseball League, was named the Greenest New Stadium of 2015 by GreenSportsBlog.
Across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, US Bank Stadium, designed by HKS Architects, will look to keep that designation in the Twin Cities when it opens its doors in August as home of the Minnesota Vikings, newly minted champs of the NFC North (Skol, Vikings!)
The stadium’s signature design element, its dazzling sloped roof, is also an example of its greenness:
- The sloped design will help shed snow in the most efficient manner.
- Its lightweight, durable and corrosion-resistant ETFE (ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene) material is energy efficient, cost effective and recyclable.
- The etched, “thermal fritted” layer on top of the ETFE material will reflect the sunlight, helping to keep the stadium warm in winter and cool in summer.
Artist’s rendering of US Bank Stadium, the new green home of the Minnesota Vikings, scheduled to open this summer. (Photo credit: Minnesota Vikings and US Bank Stadium)
HKS and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority are targeting LEED certification for the stadium, and the roof will help it gain points in LEED’s energy and innovation in design categories.