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The New Ball Game

2008 May 20

About the author: Jeff Maurer manages Web content and does communications work for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. He has been with EPA since 2005.

photo of Jeff Maurer at Wrigley FieldBefore I moved to DC, I lived next to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. I love Wrigley Field – it’s like stepping back in time. The scoreboard is still manually operated. There are no billboards for advertising. They don’t play rock music over the PA system, though they do play polka music on the pipe organ during rain delays. You can still buy standing-room tickets at Wrigley, which is good because the seats were apparently installed when the average American was three feet tall and suffered from tapeworms.

Compare that to recently-completed Nationals Park here in DC. Nationals Park boasts 41,888 American-sized seats (my description, not theirs), a 4,500 square foot high-definition scoreboard, and every other amenity you could possibly imagine. The fan experience is great, though their music choices tend to favor Fergie and Fall Out Boy, with surprisingly little polka.

It just goes to show how much attitudes and planning have changed. Fans in 2008 expect a lot when they come to a ballpark. They expect quality food. They expect not to sit behind a post. They expect to do the chicken dance (why?). As a result, the designers of Nationals Park had to consider a lot more than did the designers of Wrigley Field.

And finally – finally! – it seems that environmental impact is becoming a major consideration. Nationals Park is the first LEED-certified ballpark Exit EPA Disclaimer in Major League Baseball. It has several “green” features, including a plant-covered roof that reduces water runoff, an elaborate water filtration system, high-efficiency lighting, and low-flow plumbing fixtures. Compare that to Wrigley Field, which barely features plumbing.

I’m glad that ballpark designers – and designers in general – are starting to figure this out. People in 1914 – the year Wrigley was built – didn’t care too much about the environment, but people in 2008 do. For example, people at public events expect to be able to recycle their empty bottles. I know this because EPA’s Recycle on the Go initiative – which encourages recycling at public events – has held several well-received events in public spaces, including at the 2006 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

Attitudes and expectations change over time, sometimes for better (e.g., ballparks should have more than one bathroom), sometimes for worse (e.g., Lady Lumps is acceptable music during a pitching change). I think the message is clear: in 2008, the public expects environmentally-friendly buildings and spaces.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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8 Responses leave one →
  1. Amy permalink
    May 21, 2008

    …unless you live in Indianapolis, where we are building a new football stadium and don’t care about the environment in the process. Our newspaper compared it to your new stadium and how we’re NOT doing LEED certification, while our mayor says the environment isn’t even on his radar.

    Why do I live here?

  2. john permalink
    May 27, 2008

    the Nats park may be LEED certified, but they need better recycling bins than the sporadically-placed, single-substance ones they’ve got. How about recycling stations that can take plastic, aluminum and trash?

    The energy-efficient stadium lights are pretty cool, though.

  3. Kenia Fulton permalink
    September 10, 2008

    I’d like to see the EPA educate the people more on the impacts of Waste discharge from black water and gray water from boaters. I own Marine Waste Management, Inc. and am always trying to educate everyone as much as I can. So many people never even think about it!

  4. David in South Jersey permalink
    November 5, 2008

    The Philadelphia Phillies promoted a “Red Goes Green” sustainability campaign this past season and improved recycling at their newer ballpark. I think the good karma from their green efforts helped to bring a World Series win to the Phillies!! Oh, sorry about those Cubs. . . .

  5. Evan Baumgarten permalink
    March 23, 2009

    I am from New Jersey and I am a very big Mets fan and in April they will be opening their brand new stadium for the 2009 season. Although the new stadium, called Citi Field, does not have the LEED rating that the new Nationals stadium has, the construction does contain energy efficient components. The $800 billion stadium was constructed with 95% recycled steel and will be lit during night games with energy efficient bulbs. The bathrooms were built with low-flow plumbing which the EPA estimates will save 4 million gallons of water a year. They are also installing a 15,000 square foot green roof meant to cut down on heating and cooling costs. Finally the new stadium will have a more efficient and easier accessible metro system to promote public transportation. The Mets organization has also partnered with the EPA’s Energy Star Program so they are definitely taking a step in the right direction with this new stadium. It has been over 100 years since Wrigley Field was built and saying baseball Stadiums have gone through some changes since then is a bold understatement. Technology feeds off of energy to survive; so with technology comes energy usage. But as technology progresses, it will have less of a dependent relationship with energy and more of a co-dependent relationship.

  6. John Rote permalink
    September 2, 2009

    I think we should talk about Green Procurement more as a combined unit or force. Kinda like the NRA and guns. They focus on gun control and we could focus on Green Procurement. This may be the time to make a change and a difference. I think the current administration is open to improving our environment. We just need to make up our mind that we are going to initially spend some money, but we will see a return on investment within 5 years on several projects.

    Also, sometimes words get in the way. Although the National Guard is a federal agency, I believe that we should be addressed separately in regulations and guidance, either as a whole part of the military or separate. In other words, come out and say the military is responsible for something or “shall” do something instead of saying “federal government” or “federal agency”. Because we deal with State’s environmental personnel, the National Guard Bureau ends up working with two entities : EPA and State Government. Sometimes guidance or new regulations are not acted on very quickly, and we wait for guidance before putting out our own thinking it is going to be vastly different or we will have to add a lot. It would be good to know that we can make up our own plans without having to wait for the state government to put out their guidance. Plus it specifically directs National Guard units to act. Case and point is Underground Storage Tank and Pollution Prevention Plans. Operator training and pollution prevention plans are very key elements of a successful pollution prevention program. Some things get more emphasis than they deserve and some don’t get enough; all because they don’t cost very much. We should start going with what is right and not what costs too much. What do you think? Are there problems or relavent issues at your end I’m not seeing?

  7. john permalink
    September 7, 2009

    Going to Wrigley field to watch a game is such a wonderful experience. I miss it as a kid.

  8. david mcgiffin permalink
    March 30, 2012

    who cares

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