On the ground at the greenest Super Bowl ever

A sign for Super Bowl 50 in front of San Francisco City Hall, near Super Bowl City. The game is taking place 45 miles south in Santa Clara.

Editor's note: Hear Neill Duffy, sustainability director of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, tell the GreenBiz studio about temporary power, fuel cells, fan engagement and planning a net positive event.

When one thinks of Super Bowl great moments, the mind thinks in terms of Roman numerals: Broadway Joe’s "The Jets Are Gonna Win the Game" Guarantee for Super Bowl III, Lynn Swann’s acrobatic catch for the Steelers in X, Montana’s drive for the Niners in XXIII, Tyree’s catch against his helmet for the Giants to deny the Pats an undefeated season in XLVII, and many others.

We don’t know if Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, will be among the all-time greats, but we do know two things that will make it unique:

1. It is the first Super Bowl not to use the aforementioned Roman numerals — this is Super Bowl 50, not Super Bowl L. ( Is that because "L" for 50 stands for "loser?" Perhaps. The next Super Bowl, in Houston, goes back to the old way of doing things, and will be Super Bowl LI.)

2. It will be the most sustainable, the greenest ever.

GreenSportsBlog is on the ground in San Francisco to report on the latter point  the green, sustainability angles. Now, you may ask, "Why are we in San Francisco if the game is in Santa Clara?"

Fans watching Sunday’s Pro Bowl in Super Bowl City on the big screen, sponsored by Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee sponsor SAP and its Fan Energy Zone, implying clean energy.
Lew Blaustein

Fans watching Sunday’s Pro Bowl in Super Bowl City on the big screen, sponsored by Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee sponsor SAP and its Fan Energy Zone–implying clean energy.

The answer is this is the Bay Area Super Bowl 50. So, while the game is at Levi’s Stadium, the new LEED-Gold-certified home of the 49ers, most of the activities around the Super Bowl this week are taking place in San Francisco at Super Bowl City Presented by Verizon in the Embarcadero district down by the Bay.

It became immediately apparent during my first visit to Super Bowl City  projected to draw 1 million people during its nine-day run  on a sunny Sunday afternoon that sustainability and green aspects are deeply embedded into the fabric of virtually all of the goings-on:

At the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee sponsor Hyundai’s exhibit, the company displays its first Sonata Plug-In Hybrid.
Lew Blaustein

At Super Bowl 50 Host Committee sponsor Hyundai’s exhibit, the company displays its first Sonata Plug-In Hybrid.

Volunteers from the Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, seeded throughout Super Bowl City, ask fans if they took mass transit to get there. A "yes" answer prompts the volunteer to help enter them via mobile device into the Play Your Part (#PlayYourPart) program. The fan is entered into a sweepstakes — Grand Prize is two tickets to the game. The participant also gets 50 "GoldCoins" to distribute to one of four Bay Area Green Charities. Those GoldCoins then are turned into actual dollars  $200,000 to be exact  by the 50 Fund, the Host Committee's charitable giving arm. The charities are:

1. Education Outside, an organization that connects students with nature and healthy food as part of their school day.

2. Environmental Volunteers, which provides low-income youth with access to science and environmental education.

3. Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, which inspires creativity, and curiosity about the natural world.

4. Hunters Point Family Healthy Bayview, a program of community gardens and food education for low-income families.

Host Committee sponsors, including Hyundai and SAP, are promoting their greenness at their booths and installations. This is done in an organic, not over-the-top way. This was the right way to go to my way of thinking:  For fans, the game is clearly the thing, so a sustainability message that acknowledges that fact will be (much) better received than if the fan is beaten over the head with it.

Each day, the Host Committee will make sustainability-themed announcements from the main stage.

We will report more on those announcements and the other sustainability-related stories from Super Bowl City, including the fans’ reactions.

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