How Can the Final Four Get Greener?March 31, 2016
Houston’s NRG Stadium and Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, the hosts of this year’s men’s and women’s Final Fours, recognize the power of sports to engage fans in greening communities. In the past few years, both stadiums have implemented model fan-engagement initiatives.
Both venues have organized highly successful e-waste recycling drives, events that keep hazardous materials from entering landfills and prevent the energy intensive extraction of new raw materials. Lucas Oil Stadium has organized multiple events in partnership with LG Electronics and RecycleForce, a nonprofit that provides comprehensive recycling services and workforce training to formerly incarcerated individuals. During one 2011 event dubbed the “Zooper Bowl,” fans donated 43,006 pounds of electronics. After a successful e-waste drive at 2011 (over 25,000 pounds of electronics collected), NRG Stadium also tipped off the 2016 men’s tournament with an e-waste drive in partnership with LG and a local electronics retailer. Fans that donated electronics received rebate offers on Energy Star-certified electronics.
Besides e-waste drives, what else can facilities, venues, and event host sites do to engage fans? And how can they do it well?
Here are a few good resources that model effective and creative engagement strategies:
- UCI Road World Championships Sustainability Report – A guide produced by the City of Richmond for the 2015 Road World Championships highlights the partnerships, innovations, and strategies for sustainability that helped make this such a successful community event.
- “Engaging Fans and Sponsors Through Sustainable Products” – This blog post describes the power of upcycling, and provides innovative examples of how sports teams are turning potential waste into useful and meaningful products for fans.
- NRDC’s Game Changer: How the Sports Industry is Saving the Environment – Produced by the NRDC, this guide provides a number of useful case studies on how “Jewel Events, Leagues, Teams and Venues are Going Green.”
- Presentation by Dave Newport, Director of University of Colorado Boulder’s Environmental Center – This presentation, from the 2015 Green Sports Alliance Summit, gives a clear summary of how university sports brands can engage fans, the community, and partners in positive, productive campaigns.
Also, as any facility that has tried to green operations knows, finding the right partnerships and technical assistance can make a big difference in running a successful project or campaign. For full directories of regional and national sustainability assistance, check out our Greening Sports Directory. The Indianapolis and Houston metro areas both have dozens of helpful contacts listed.