The NFL season kicked off last weekend and although the league has a testosterone-filled, gladiator-type reputation, it has the most gentle environmental impact of all other sports. There’s a simple reason of course: There are so few games that the fans can’t produce as much waste.
Although many teams have made changes to reduce the carbon footprint of sporting events as The New York Times reported last month, the simple fact is a lot of waste is produced by each sporting event:
The researchers essentially calculated the total energy and resource use associated with the match — from energy use and food and drink consumption to travel and waste generation — and then estimated the area of land that would be required to support such resource consumption. How much hypothetical land was needed to produce the food, absorb the emissions and otherwise provide for the 2004 Football Association Cup final in Britain? Roughly 3,000 hectares, or 7,400 acres — or about one-quarter of Manchester United’s namesake city.
As I mentioned in the running diary kept last March on my environmental impact from one day (I went to a Celtics game that day), some venues are better than others, but one place where a lot of waste occurs is in the actual production of physical tickets.
When the NBA tips off in late October, patrons in Denver, Houston and Cleveland and a couple other cities won’t be using physical tickets anymore. The Cavs have been using the system for season-ticketholders since 2006 and now everyone entering the game can just use a credit card or driver’s license that will be scanned to confirm their ticket. It makes it easier to transfer tickets, cuts down on scalping and most of all reduces the waste put into producing tickets. The “Flash Seats” system replaces Ticketmaster – and considering Ticketmaster’s reach and contracts with other pro teams, I wondered if local pro teams would be looking into such a system. No reply was given by the folks at Fenway (their green guru is on maternity leave), but the ticket folks at the TD Garden and Gillette Stadium graciously answered.
“While a ticketless entry system for season-ticket holders is one of the amenities we have explored for the future, any new program we implement also has to integrate easily into the greater Gillette Stadium environment that also includes another professional team and various other events,” New England Revs spokeswoman Lizz Summers wrote in an e-mail to Lights Out, Green In.
Summers went on to explain how grey water is used for facility urinals and restrooms, wind energy powers the stadium and all bottles and cans are recycled at the stadium and in the offices. Heather Walker, the PR director for the Celtics, also said the TD Garden isn’t set up for a ticketless system at this time.
That leaves New England with just one pro team using the ticketless entry and that team is on the outer edges of the region, the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun in Uncasville, CT. An AP article details exactly how the system works and has fans and team officials hailing it as a success.
“We want to be cutting-edge,’’ Sun GM Chris Sienko said. “We also want to simplify things for ourselves. Plus, you’re going green and you’re saving money on printing costs of a paper ticket.’’ By going paperless, Sienko estimates, the Sun will save between $13,000 and $15,000 in printing costs this season.
One can only hope that the news makes its way to Boston.
Sure, you’ll lose that perfect game memento – a ticket stub. But with tickets being printed out from printers or on generic Ticketmaster stubs, the stub has already lost some of its luster. I’m sure it can be replaced with some e-memento that can be stored on your computer. Is it the same? No. But all these wasteful acts we ignore can really add up. Either we change or the generations after us will have a lot more than lost mementos to worry about. The climate crisis will be in full tilt. That’s not something we should play games with.