The Greening of America’s Favorite Pastime

Yankee Stadium

By Jim Ferretti

Professional sports in the New York area have a large and historic following, whether you are a fan of the Jets or Giants, Mets or Yankees, and Devils or Rangers. Over the past 10 years, these teams have implemented substantial sustainability and eco-friendly programs and processes. Met Life Stadium, where the Jets and Giants play, is considered one of the greenest stadiums in pro sports.  Major League Baseball has also implemented a number of programs to be green while still keeping the field green.

Many major league scoreboards seem to be getting bigger and bigger. Many teams have switched to LED lighting and have saved substantial energy. Scott Jenkins is vice president of ballpark operations for the Seattle Mariners and he’s also a founding member of the Green Sports Alliance. It’s a group of 30 pro teams – hockey to soccer – working to shrink the environmental footprint of pro sports teams. For example, replacing high-energy-use bulbs in the scoreboards with LED lights and other electric saving measures saved one team half a million dollars a year on power bills. A simple scoreboard uses enough energy to power 100 homes for a year.

The scoreboard at Seattle’s Safeco Field.

The Green Sports Alliance has made progress in the areas of renewable energy, a greater use of recycled products and products made from biodegradable materials, and carbon offsets where teams can pay up to one half of the carbon costs of their travel. In the 2008 All Star Game played at the new and cavernous Yankees Stadium, the game was powered 100 percent by donated wind power and used hybrid buses to brings fans to the stadium (for those not on the subway!), used materials that were recycled and biodegradable and also gave out 700,000 re-usable grocery bags.

The Washington Nationals built a brand new stadium that was certified by the U.S. Green Building Council a few years ago and implemented lighting that was energy efficient, low-flow sinks and toilets, and recycling bins with recycled materials. Eco friendly services include VIP parking for hybrid vehicles. The field has a state of the art water filtration system and is built on a former Brownfields site.

Also, the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox have installed solar panels at their older-built stadiums. Other clubs, including the New Jersey Devils hockey team, have initiated food waste recycling programs and many have switched their concession stands to bio-made materials. Also the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are using incentives to reach the fans in their area. They have developed an innovative program to recognize organizations in the area that have implemented eco friendly solutions in their own business. They have awarded a number of businesses $1,000 and tickets for recognition on the field during the game for their environmental stewardship in the community. So here’s hoping that whatever baseball or football team you root for, they have the greenest field possible.

About the Author: Jim is a team leader for the Sanitary Chemistry and Biology Team for the Laboratory Branch in the EPA’s Division of Environmental Science and Assessment.  He has a Masters Degree in Environmental Science from Rutgers University and a BS Degree in Water Analysis Technology from California University of PA.  Jim has a diversified background in environmental studies and biological laboratory testing.  He has been employed at the EPA since 1990, starting out in the water program in headquarters and moving to New Jersey in 1992.  Prior to the EPA, Jim was a project manager for five years at a consulting firm in New Jersey where he performed laboratory and field environmental studies. Jim is an avid baseball fan and has been heavily involved in youth baseball as a manager and was president of his son’s high school Baseball Booster Club for the past two years.