Keeping the NFL Green in Sustainable Stadiums

August 14, 2014


With preseason football already under way, it won’t be long now until the NFL season officially kicks into full gear. And although the intensity of the gridiron will undoubtedly remain the same, some fans might notice big changes around their local stadiums. That’s because after years of outcry to green up the game, a number of NFL teams have revamped their arenas with a variety of energy-saving and cost-cutting measures.

In San Francisco’s Levi’s Stadium, for instance, an 18,000-square-foot canopy of greenery and flowers has been planted as a “living roof” above an eight-story tower of luxury seats. The garden provides natural insulation and helps cut down on energy use for the building as a whole. The $1.2 billion 49ers stadium is also home to a field of drought proof grass as well as hundreds of solar panels scattered across the structure. These improvements allow the San Francisco arena to offset its energy consumption even during the most crowded games.

Meanwhile, administrators for the Philadelphia Eagles have packed the city’s Lincoln Financial Field with 11,000 solar panels and 14 wind turbines. The team was the first to go green in a big way, and now it’s one of ten NFL franchises to have implemented a sustainability program. So far, all environmental action has come from the teams and their owners rather than the NFL itself. Besides providing information about the benefits of going green, the league doesn’t feel it has the authority to mandate any sweeping changes to a collection of independent owners. However, an inter-sports organization called the Green Sports Alliance has led the charge for change through a coalition of owners led by the Seattle Seahawks’ Paul Allen. Comprised of nearly two-thirds of all Major League Baseball teams, half the NHL and half the NFL, the alliance advocates going green to save money as well as the planet. As more teams join the alliance, the consensus might drive the NFL and other leagues to make sustainability the standard at stadiums across the country.



  1. Should the NFL actively support the effort to “green up the game?”
  1. Will colleges join the march to green stadiums?


Source: Jim Carlton, “Some NFL Teams Are Going Green,” The Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2014. Photo by Victor Lee.