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Sports and Sustainability?


Sports and Sustainability?



What do Rays, Lightning, and a Storm all have in common? (I know, I know, this sounds like a joke setup you’d hear at your corner bar…just go with it.) Well, if you guessed that they are all sports teams in Tampa Bay, you would be correct. Additionally, all of these sports teams are avid stewards of our environment and are striving to make the world a little bit more sustainable each day. In honor of the 44th Annual Earth Day Celebration, held on April 22, 2014, I thought it would be nice to highlight some of the ways in which sports teams in Tampa Bay are trying to preserve our precious environment and resources. Each of the sports teams mentioned is a member of the Sustainable Business Coalition of Tampa Bay, Inc.

HooRAY for Sustainability

The Tampa Bay Rays are a major league baseball team and play at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. They have worked hard over the last few years to commit themselves to sustainability through various changes in their business operations. There are three main areas of sustainability in which the team is focused: In the Office, At Spring Training, and On the Field/In the Stands.

In the Office, similar to other office models, the Rays focus their efforts on recycling and green materials. Office employees were given on-line training to educate them about the importance of recycling everything from plastic bottles to aluminum cans. Additionally, all utensils and cleaning supplies used in the Rays’ office are eco-friendly.

At the Rays' Spring Training Facility, the Rays have a 2,000 square foot education green roof available to teach the public about responsible stormwater management practices. Additionally, the facility has a recycling center for materials such as metal and wood.

On the Field/In the Stands, the Rays encourage alternative transportation modes and more recycling. Bicycle racks are available throughout the area outside of the stadium and people who carpool with at least four people get to park for free! During the 2008 season, 29% of cars had four or more passengers. Typically, it cost $10.00 to park, so why not try carpooling next time you’re at a Rays game and put that money towards some good ole ballpark food and beverages. Additionally, fans are encouraged to recycle throughout the game and are reminded by signage, video promos, and “clean-up hitters.”

Greening the Forum

The Tampa Bay Lighting, part of the National Hockey League, and the Tampa Bay Storm, part of the Arena Football League, both play at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. These teams, like the Rays, have devoted themselves to sustainability. The Tampa Bay Times Forum is focused mainly on recycling efforts and environmentally conscious building transformations. The facility, on average, creates about 3,800 pounds of waste a day. That’s around 1,387,000 pounds annually! To put that in perspective, that is equal to about 146 adult elephants. The good news is that the facility is able to recycle roughly 26% of materials and many of the commodities recycled create revenue for the Forum.

During the facility’s 2011 renovations to become more sustainable, the Forum was able to recycle about 68% of its building materials. New green initiatives, such as a recycle compactor, touchless faucets, and energy efficient light fixtures, have allowed the Forum to reduce its electricity costs by around 12% and natural gas usage costs by around 20%.

So remember, while Earth Day is only one day a year, being an environmental steward is a year-round job. Take the time to check out sustainability efforts at some of your favorite sports teams facilities and if you see anything interesting let me know!

–Amanda Douglas, Cities That Work Blog