If they green it, will fans come?

Written by hanh


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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  1. erikawas

    At AT&T Park, the garlic fries are as green as they are tasty…
    As the 2009 baseball season begins, the most impressive part of AT&T Park, home to the San Francisco Giants, may be all the green you can’t see.
    Since AT&T Park opened nearly a decade ago, the Giants have committed to making it one of the most energy-efficient structures in the major leagues

  2. Demere

    You forgot about the Washington National’s Stadium which was built last year (from the National’s website):
    Green Ballpark
    Nationals Park is the nation’s first major professional stadium to become LEED Silver Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The project incorporates a variety of sustainable design elements.
    A Sustainable Site
    Nationals Park is categorized as a brownfield redevelopment that is located near the Anacostia River. It is anticipated that the ballpark will serve as an anchor for urban revitalization of the area, including a new mixed-use entertainment zone.
    The ballpark site was enrolled in the Voluntary Clean Up Program and therefore provides an opportunity to leave the roughly 25-acre site a much better environment then when it was received. Environmental remediation efforts are ongoing.
    The ballpark’s location is easily accessible to public transportation, including access to nearby metro stations and local bus routes.
    Use of Materials
    *Water conserving plumbing fixtures are used throughout the project, saving an estimated 3.6 million gallons of water per year and reducing overall water consumption by 30 percent.
    *Energy conserving light fixtures help reduce light pollution and realize a projected 21 percent energy savings over typical field lighting.
    *Content of building materials used on the project contain a minimum of 10 percent recycled content, and other interior materials including adhesives, carpet glues and paints were specified with low VOC contents.
    *Many of the building materials used on the project were produced regionally, which cut down on transportation costs while promoting the local economy.
    *Landscape plant materials specified are drought resistant, conserving water by eliminating the need for irrigation.
    *Roof materials offer a high degree of reflectance, minimizing the amount of heat released to the environment. A 6,300 square foot green roof above a concession/toilet area beyond left field minimizes roof heat gain.
    *5,500 tons of construction waste were recycled.
    An Intricate Ground and Stormwater Filtration System
    Because the site is within close proximity to the Anacostia River, much care was taken to treat storm and ground water runoff. The result is a unique, intricate water filtration system that separates water used for cleaning the ballpark from rainwater falling on the ballpark and treats both sources of water before it is released to the sanitary and stormwater systems. Special care was also given to screening organic debris such as peanut shells that are unique to this building type from the stormwater system.

  3. Jon

    You should check out weplaygreen.org, if you are interested in green sports. It was co-founded by Cincinnati Reds rookie outfielder Chris Dickerson. He started recycling efforts with the Louisville Bats AAA club last year and has really been a force for green initiatives in professional sports since making the big leagues this year. Several other athletes have joined him in his efforts to green up professional sports. The website is fairly new and under construction, but it gives a good idea of what the group is about.

  4. Hanh Ho

    Thank you for sharing the website. It’s a terrific site. For the athletes on board, what is their level of commitment to get on that list? It’s refreshing to see some of my favorite athletes’ thoughts on climate change and to see them take it into public discourse.