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If they green it, will fans come?

Baseball has always been my favorite sport. As winter subsides and spring marks the beginning of the baseball season, I took a moment to reflect on our nation’s favorite pastime. Of all sports, baseball is the most dependent on fair (if not warm) weather. With more games getting rained out or called off because of extreme weather in the month of April, I wondered whether Major League Baseball was getting concerned about climate change.

It turns out that, in a joint effort between the MLB and the National Resource Defense Council, baseball teams across the country are working to improve their sustainability practices.

Leading the charge, the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 adopted practices such as using more energy efficient LED lighting, recycling cooking oil, increasing the use of compostable products, increasing recycling rates, and educating fans on how they can join the Phillies in their environmental efforts.

The Boston Red Sox adopted similar practices. They even installed solar panels at the roof behind home plate, which replaced 37% of gas energy used, equivalent to 18 tons of CO2 a year.

The Phillies and the Red Sox aren’t the only teams engaged in greening their operations. Other teams are joining the cause. Here is an abbreviated list of what they’re doing:

**Renewable energy, carbon offsets**

* Philadelphia Phillies
* Seattle Mariners
* Cincinnati Reds
* Tampa Bay Rays

**Tree planting**

* Oakland Athletics
* Houston Astros

**Education and outreach**

* The Pittsburgh Pirates launched “Let’s Go Bucs, Let’s Go Green” program that integrates greening initiatives, sustainable business practices, and educational outreach.

It’s difficult to say whether the green initiatives launched by MLB teams are drawing more fans to games. Though many teams are still at the early stages of reinventing the way they operate, I would like to see more teams follow the approach taken by the Phillies and Red Sox. I hope teams see this chance to change their sustainability practices as something more than a marketing opportunity.

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