Sports Leaders Team Up to Play Greener™ | Sports Destination Management

Sports Leaders Team Up to Play Greener™

Jun 15, 2017

This June 27-29, the Green Sports Alliance Summit will bring sports leaders together from 15 leagues, representing 14 countries at the LEED Platinum Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, a venue that's entirely powered by renewable energy. With a theme of PLAY GREENER™, the seventh annual Summit aims to accelerate fan engagement; educate youth on sustainability through sports; and leverage the $485 billion sports industry to tackle energy, waste, water, food, transportation, and other sustainability issues in sports.

Olympians Mary Harvey and Jill Savery, Hall of Famers Bill Walton and Peter “PT” Townend, NASCAR stars Joey McColm and Julia Landauer, and numerous other athletes who care about our world’s future will share the stage with Yankees VP Operations Doug Behar, Mercedes-Benz Stadium General Manager Scott Jenkins, Arizona State Athletic Director Ray Anderson, and other team executives who lead the way in greening sports venues.

Conference Highlights: The conference opens with basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton in conversation with Abe Madkour of Sports Business Journal.

A panel of athletes will talk about the way they take action in the community: 

·         professional surfer Duke Aipa; 

·         collegiate swimmer Jesika Cavanaugh of Oregon State University; 

·         mixed martial artist “The California Kid” Urijah Faber; 

·         former Oakland Athletics minor leaguer Shane Keough; 

·         and NASCAR driver Julia Landauer.


League executives will discuss sustainability initiatives within and beyond their own sport:

·         Jack Groh, director, NFL Environmental Program; 

·         Paul Hanlon, senior director, Ballpark Operations and Sustainability, Major League Baseball;

·         Catherine Kummer, senior director, Green Innovation and STEM Platforms, NASCAR; 

·         Omar Mitchell, vice president, Corporate Social Responsibility, National Hockey League;

·         Lauren Tracy, director of strategic initiatives, US Tennis Association; 

·         and Erin Schnieders, vice president of venues, National Basketball Association.

Celebrations around the event include:

·         a best ball scramble golf tournament with sports legends and Hall of Famers;

·         the annual Green Sports Celebration: an evening to celebrate the best in sports and sustainability, including the much-anticipated awards for environmental leadership and innovation;

·         and a Summit first: an eco-fashion competition.

Pre-conference Events: Monday, June 26, offers two signature events. First is the Green Sports Alliance & Sacramento Kings Golf Invitational.  Golfers will tee off with NFL Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Marshall Faulk, along with sports legends Joey McColm, Jim Plunkett, Garry Sheffield, and Spud Webb for a best ball scramble tournament (10:30 shotgun start) at the Granite Bay Golf Club.  Serious golfers will recognize and appreciate the fact that Robert Trent Jones designed this gorgeous, challenging par-71 course.  It is recognized by Audubon International as well as Golf Digest for its beauty and environmental standards. 

The second major event is the Youth Summit.  Learning directly from the world of sports, and environmental advocate and Disney star Calum Worthy, high school and middle school students will work with two nationally-recognized initiatives:  the How Low Can You Go energy challenge and the Trash on Your Back waste awareness program. Training will include ideas on how students can take action with their own schools’ athletic events, just as their counterparts do in the NCAA and the professional leagues.  

Venue Tours: Tours include the renewable energy-powered Golden 1 Center, UC Davis (ranked No. 1 in the world for its campus sustainability practices), Sacramento State Sustainable Campus Tour, Raley Field, and California Safe Soil – From Fork to Farm.

At the Conference: The multi-day event kicks off with a live interview featuring NBA and college Hall of Famer Bill Walton, who brings the same commitment and passion to protecting the environment that he brought to the sport of basketball. He will be joined by Abraham Madkour, executive editor, Sports Business Journal for a fast-paced, wide-ranging conversation that is certain to be engaging, compelling, and likely to spark some controversy. 

“The earth is a beautiful place,” Walton said. “Sadly, we are destroying it in front of our eyes – and the earth is fighting back.  We’re seeing devastating climate change, environmental cancers, poisoned water, and unbreathable air. We have the moral obligation, duty, and responsibility to do everything we can to remedy this tragedy.”

Breakouts include:

·         What Floats & What Sinks: Lessons Learned in Stakeholder Engagement and Storytelling Around Water;

·         From Sourcing to Sorting: Innovations in Waste Management;

·         Health & Wellness Spotlight: Protecting Athletes, Coaches and Administration via Sustainable Design;

·         A Roadmap: Improving Campus Sustainability Utilizing the Power of Sports; 

·         and Sustainability & Data – Making Sense out of a Crowded Marketplace.

Green Sports Celebration: The Green Sports Celebration on Wednesday evening, June 28, publicly acknowledges the achievements of individuals and organizations in the green sports movement.  The Alliance will present its annual awards for environmental leadership and innovation. And for the first time, the Golden 1 Center will play host to a catwalk for an eco-fashion runway competition. Seven talented student designers will showcase original designs that reflect both sustainability and sports functionality.

Environmental Considerations – not just at the game: Golden 1 Center in Sacramento is a natural choice for the Summit: not only does it use 100% renewable energy thanks to solar panels on the arena roof and electricity sourced from the Rancho Seco Solar Array, it is the first indoor professional sports arena in the world to earn LEED Platinum certification, as designated by the US Green Building Council (USGBC).

In the Balance: energy use and offsets: “There’s no way around it:  any event, be it playoff game, major conference, or even a corporate dinner, has an environmental price to pay,” said Justin Zeulner, executive director of the Green Sports Alliance.  “We’re grateful for the generosity of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation one of the Alliance’s founding partners in helping us mitigate that. We are working closely together to calculate and balance our environmental footprint in three crucial areas:  water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and electricity.”

Table for… 17,000? Right this way: Golden 1 Center’s farm-to-court food philosophy includes a 10-point charter that spells out just how Michael Tuohy, general manager for food and beverage provider Legends, and his team plan to revolutionize how arenas feed a crowd – in this case, 17,600 at a time.

Tuohy and Legends source a full 90% of their ingredients – as well as their wine, and most of their beer – from within a 150-mile radius of the arena.  What isn’t used is diverted away from landfill:  ready-to-serve food goes to the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services; kitchen waste is converted to organic material for local farms.

Registration is Open for the Summit: The Green Sports Alliance Summit is the most influential convening of key stakeholders from around the sporting world for the purpose of sharing best practices, inspiring positive change, and improving the communities where we live and play. Register and learn more at

About Green Sports Alliance: The Green Sports Alliance leverages the cultural and market influence of sports to promote healthy, sustainable communities where people live and play. The Alliance inspires professional sports leagues, sports governing bodies, colleges, teams, venues, their partners and millions of fans to embrace renewable energy, healthy food, recycling, water efficiency, safer chemicals and other environmentally preferable practices. Alliance members now number nearly 500 organizations representing 15 leagues in 14 countries. Visit for more information.

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