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Stadium sustainability brings fans closer to their team

By Travis Politakis

With the increase in popularity of sports over the last century, came the increase and demand of bigger and better stadium venues. Stadiums such as Boston’s Fenway Park, Chicago’s Wrigley Field and Green Bay’s Lambeau Field are some of the most historic stadiums in all of sports that fans love to visit. But over the years, new stadiums have been built with nicer amenities, larger capacities and are also becoming more sustainable. Since 2014, five new stadiums have arisen across the United States in all four major professional sports.

Stadiums use a large number of resources because they hold 50,000 plus people for over three hours. From food, cups, parking, restrooms, lights, groundwork and electricity, employees work tirelessly to provide fans with an intimate experience to watch their favorite teams and players perform.

One stadium that offers this experience is Chase Field of the Arizona Diamondbacks. At the entrance of the stadium, Chase Field has the APS solar pavilion. The pavilion provides fans with shade while waiting in line in the grueling Arizona heat in the dog days of summer.

The pavilion also generates clean energy for the grid as it is made out of over 20 solar panels. Chase Field is also known for their variety of food including the famous “churro dog.” Instead of wasting the leftover grease by throwing it out, the concessions team saves it for some of their items and recycles the leftover grease into a biodegradable fuel.

Chase Field is an indoor stadium, which means that they require more lights. The stadium uses LED concourse lights to help with conservation. The team also uses small things such as low-flow sinks and EV charging stations in an effort to become more sustainable.

“We really want to get out in front and help influence other businesses or other sports teams in our market to say let’s kind of lock arms and go down this road together,” said Graham Rossini, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ vice president of special projects in an interview with Three Main.

Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz stadium is one of the newer stadiums that opened in September 2017. It’s catching many people’s attention because of both the beauty and the sustainability of the stadium.

Home to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and the MLS’s Atlanta United, the stadium can hold over 70,000 people and was the host of Super Bowl 53. The stadium has a retractable roof which can open or close in a matter of minutes depending on weather.

With the large capacity and new, luxurious features, sustainability measures are required. The stadium contains over 4,000 solar panels and over 82,500 square feet of LED lighting. The stadium also has a rainwater collection system, which is unique compared to other stadiums. The rainwater system contains a cistern that sits at street level and can collect up to 680,000 gallons of stormwater and can prevent flooding in surrounding neighborhoods.

No other stadium has a flood irrigation system that large. With all of their sustainability efforts, they received the LEED Platinum Certification Award, which is the first outdoor stadium to do so.

Some stadiums are using solar panels for energy, but some stadiums are turning to wind energy. Progressive field, the home of the Cleveland Indians and Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles both have invested in wind energy across the stadiums, in an attempt to become more sustainable.

Another thing that stadiums are trying to do to become more sustainable is reducing plastic. Between the food, drinks, merchandise bags, trash bags, plastic is used in a mass amount across stadiums.

At Target Field in Minnesota, the home of the Twins, the concessions staff stopped the use of plastic cups and began using compostable replacements and invested in more recycling stations, clearly marking them throughout the ballpark. Since these changes, over 5,000 tons of waste have been diverted from landfills. Target Field is one of the newer ballparks, opening in 2014.

The NHL is enforcing efforts for teams to track their ecological footprint. Each team is required to track their consumed resources, waste produced and emissions used from travel when they are traveling for road games.

The New York Times stated in a report that going green in the NHL is very important because with the increase in global warming, places aren’t staying cold enough making the sport inaccessible for those in the affected areas.

Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Super Bowl 52 Champion Philadelphia Eagles, is another environmentally friendly stadium. The stadium composts an average of 25 tons of waste per year and convert cooking oil and grease used in cooking to biodiesel.

The stadium recently installed over 11,000 solar panels and 14 wind turbines to generate 3 MW of peak power. With the wind turbines and the design of the stadium, there is always a wind on the field, which can be an advantage in September and a disadvantage come December.

Travis Politakis can be reached at travis.politakis@theminaretonline.com

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