An unprecedented coalition of professional sports teams and sporting venues gatheredyesterday at Seattle’s Safeco Field to launch the Green Sports Alliance (GSA), a non-profit organization that will help lead the effort for professional sports leagues, teams and facilities to reduce their impact on the environment. With endorsement from league commissioners and the support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is the first time that teams from Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), the National Hockey League (NHL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and Major League Soccer (MLS) have collaborated on a common environmental agenda.
Founding members of the GSA include MLB’s Seattle Mariners, NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, WNBA’s Seattle Storm and MLS’ Seattle Sounders FC. Members of the GSA representing sporting facilities include Safeco Field (Seattle), Qwest Field and Qwest Field Event Center (Seattle), KeyArena at Seattle Center (Seattle), the Rose Garden (Portland) and Rogers Arena (Vancouver). These organizations are working in close partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the U.S. EPA, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Portland State University to identify and adopt innovative environmental initiatives and share information about opportunities to measure and reduce their impact on the environment.
The idea of forming an inter-league alliance focused on environmental stewardship was originally conceived and initiated by representatives of Paul G. Allen’s sports teams and the Natural Resources Defense Council in the fall of 2009. Mr. Allen owns the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers and is co-owner of the Seattle Sounders FC.
The announcement of the organization has been enthusiastically received by sports’ league commissioners, including MLB’s Allan H. (Bud) Selig, NFL’s Roger Goodell, the NBA and WNBA’s David Stern, the NHL’s Gary Bettman and MLS’ Don Garber.
The GSA offers an opportunity for leagues, teams and venues to build on individual greening initiatives by working together to implement effective, science-based and measurable environmental programs.
“The commitment by these six professional teams, from six different leagues, to enhance their environmental profile in a meaningful and public way marks a watershed in the history of professional sports,” said Allen Hershkowitz, Senior Scientist for NRDC and environmental advisor for professional sports. “This type of inter-league collaboration is unprecedented. The Green Sports Alliance is showing its commitment to making real environmental progress by systematically evaluating their members green impacts – just like sports stats. All professional leagues should follow their lead.”
The GSA has been endorsed by the following professional sports commissioners and received a statement of support from the Administrator of the EPA:
“Major League Baseball applauds the leadership shown by the Seattle Mariners’ environmental efforts. Their participation in the Green Sports Alliance demonstrates the commitment made by MLB and our Clubs to act in environmentally-sensitive ways. We support all the members of the professional sports community working to advance this important cause and wish the Green Sports Alliance the best of success.”
– MLB Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig
“The NFL is proud to support the greening efforts of the Seattle Seahawks. Environmental stewardship is important to the NFL and all our clubs, and the Seattle Seahawks are a leader in this area. Enhancing the sustainability of professional sports is a worthy goal, and we wish the Green Sports Alliance great success.”
– NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
“The Seattle Storm and the Portland Trail Blazers are helping to lead the way on the greening of professional sports and the NBA and WNBA are grateful for their leadership. Their participation in the Green Sports Alliance holds the potential to further the greening of professional sports nationally and we wish the GSA the best of success in this important endeavor.”
– NBA Commissioner David Stern (who with Howard Schultz of Starbucks, helped OKC steal the Seattle Super Sonics)
“The NHL strongly supports the greening efforts of the Vancouver Canucks. Their participation in the Green Sports Alliance brings teams together from all professional leagues in the Pacific Northwest and aligns with the NHL’s environmental initiatives. This effort holds the promise of even further greening of professional sports.”
– NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman
“Major League Soccer and MLS W.O.R.K.S. are proud of the tremendous work Seattle Sounders FC are doing in conjunction with the Green Sports Alliance. Our league prides itself on giving back to the communities that support our clubs, and enhancing the environment is an initiative that all of us at MLS support.”
– MLS Commissioner Don Garber
“EPA commends the founding members of the Green Sports Alliance for recognizing the importance of protecting the environment and stepping up their green game. We thank them for their commitment to protecting our health and the environment. We hope that their efforts and the work toward environmental innovation will inspire their many fans and fellow teams to make choices that protect our people and our planet.”
– EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson
Headquartered in Portland, Oregon and led by Executive Director, Martin Tull, the GSA will also host a conference, the Green Sports Summit, which will bring together facility managers, event producers and marketing directors with environmental leaders such as NRDC to share best practices and discuss opportunities and challenges the teams face in their respective cities. The inaugural Green Sports Summit is scheduled for August of 2011 in Portland.
“The sports industry represents a vast opportunity to make meaningful strides towards environmental responsibility and sustainability,” said Tull. “The founding members of the Green Sports Alliance have already implemented programs and policies that have significantly reduced their environmental impact and enhanced the experience for fans. We look forward to expanding the Alliance to include teams and venues across North America so that we can help each other reduce our environmental footprint and create positive change in our communities.”
The GSA encourages all teams and venues to measure their environmental impacts and seek ways to reduce them. Specifically, organizations are urged to initiate strategies that reduce energy and carbon emissions, conserve water, increase recycling, and promote renewable energy and alternative transportation policies. Teams and venues are also encouraged to promote their greening initiatives throughout their respective leagues and surrounding communities. Alliance members will submit quarterly reports sharing results on their greening initiatives. The GSA will aggregate results across teams and report annually on collective progress.
About the Green Sports Alliance
The Green Sports Alliance is a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon with a mission to reduce the environmental impacts of professional sports and inspire others to do the same. The founding members of the Alliance are from six different professional sports leagues: Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), the National Hockey League (NHL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and Major League Soccer (MLS). GSA supports professional sports leagues in further advancing and coordinating their work on behalf of environmental stewardship. For more information visit www.greensportsalliance.org.
About the Natural Resources Defense Council
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org