Greening initiatives can often provide a visible and interactive opportunity for fans to engage with teams right in their community. Leagues and teams can promote the benefits of environmental initiatives and align their green program with existing community-based projects. Your organization can also work with community programs to provide hands-on learning materials for the local community, teaching them about the importance of environmental stewardship. These initiatives give teams the opportunity to combine community engagement and environmental benefit.
Several professional leagues and teams have programs in place that benefit, engage and give back to the local community. Here are a few examples:
In 2011, at NRDC’s instigation, Major League Soccer launched a long-term partnership with BEF on their Solar 4R Schools project and will install a solar panel at a school in the market of the MLS Champion by Earth Day 2012. This program is a great opportunity for promoting the benefits of renewable energy by providing hands-on learning materials for students and the local community as well as a small solar array. The League also purchased verified carbon offsets and renewable energy credits from Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) to offset in full the travel of 27,000 fans and for stadium operations for MLS Cup 2011 in LA.
In 2011, Petco Park and the San Diego Padres began a partnership with local group Buster Biofuels to collect all used cooking oils and greases from the stadium to be recycled into biodiesel fuel for school busses in the San Dieguito Union School District, reducing bus emissions by 78%.
In 2009 the Orlando Magic partnered with NBA Toyota Project Rebound and “No Fault” to resurface two community basketball courts using recycled tires. This is part of an ongoing initiative including dozens of hands-on community service projects hosted by NBA, WNBA, and NBA Development League teams, including court refurbishments, the creation of Reading & Learning Centers, and other Legacy Projects providing youth safe places to live, learn, or play.
The NHL’s Gallons for Goals program pledges to restore 1,000 gallons of water to a critically dewatered river for each goal scored during the 2011-12 regular season, , through Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s Water Restoration Certificates.
Sixty professional sports teams from MLB, the NBA, the NHL, and the NFL have participated in Rock and Wrap it Up’s food donation program since 2003. All 30 NHL teams have committed to work with nonprofit Rock and Wrap it Up to pack up all prepared but unsold concession food on game nights for redistribution to local places of need. Over the course of the initiative’s first full season, NHL Clubs provided 163,000 meals to people in need and diverted 105 tons of food from landfills and incinerators across North America. For this food diversion program, the EPA honored the Boston Bruins with the Environmental Merit Award, and four NHL clubs in New York area (Region 2) and four NHL clubs in the MidWest (Region 5) with the Environmental Quality Award, the EPA’s highest recognition awarded to the public for environmental protection.