Super Bowl XLV: Big State, Big Stadium, Big Game … Big Emissions-Reducing Plans

Written by Matt Barrett on . Posted in Learn

As you’ve probably heard, they make things big in Texas. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones took that mantra to heart in building the team’s new massive stadium, with the largest 1080p high-definition video screen in the world perched from the stadium rafters. The screen’s so big – spanning from one 20-yard line to the other – that a punt hit the darn thing during the stadium’s grand opening game in 2009! (Check out the video evidence here)

It’s a huge state with a huge stadium that has the hugest video screen. So, not surprisingly, a week from Sunday, Cowboys Stadium will host the year’s hugest football game – Super Bowl XLV. As broadcaster Al Michaels would say, this is going to be “youuuuge.”

Rabid cheese head-wearing and terrible towel-waving fans of the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers will descend on Dallas for the biggest American sporting spectacle of the year. There will be lights, fireworks, Christina Aguilera, The Black Eyed Peas, and, if we’re lucky, maybe even some good smash-mouth football played by two of the most storied franchises in any sport (I can just hear the proprietary strings and brass melodies of NFL Films warming up for this one!).

But there’s a cost to all this huge stuff: they have a big environmental impact and use some serious energy. reports that the NFL is working with various partners to make sure the Packers’ jerseys aren’t the only green thing going on at this Super Bowl.

The article quotes Jack Groh, director of the NFL Environmental Program, saying, “Any large event has … measurable impacts. Solid waste is obviously huge, so is transportation and emissions related to energy use.”

Regarding the emissions from energy use, the article goes on to demonstrate how Super Bowl XLV will feature initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint.

Groh points out that one strategy that this year’s Super Bowl will use is to offset a portion of the energy expended at the event by effectively funding the production of additional renewable energy at a local facility.

The NFL is also planting trees to offset some of the carbon pollution generated by the event. The article reports that in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the Texas Forest Service, the NFL will help plant thousands of trees throughout North Texas.

It’s this kind of initiative that makes Laura Huffman, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas, all pumped for the big game and for conservation efforts in the state more generally.

“While we won’t have a Texas team on the field at Cowboys Stadium next week, it’s good to know that Texans are still in the game.” said Huffman. “Conservation and protecting the environment are team sports too. The Nature Conservancy in Texas has boots-on-the-ground programs in North Texas and all across the state, so anytime we see a group like the NFL working with local communities to mitigate the environmental impact of an event like The Super Bowl, we cheer them on.”

Huffman pointed out that in a state where football is “right up there with mom and apple pie,” so too is conservation of the state’s abundant natural resources. From protecting some of the largest and most diverse remnants of the Blackland Prairie in North Texas, where its tallgrass is the most-endangered large ecosystem in North America, to working with the state legislature to protect freshwater supplies and quality, Huffman says that “friends and supporters of the Conservancy in Texas are part of a winning strategy that all Super Bowl fans can be a part of.”

Football and conservation. So big. So Texas.

Matt Barrett is marketing manager for climate change at The Nature Conservancy

Photo by: Flickr user Ateupamateur, used under a Creative Commons license (IMG_0390, New Cowboys Stadium)

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Planet Change is a Nature Conservancy blog site designed to share stories about actions the Conservancy and others around the world are taking to fight carbon pollution and the impacts of climate change, and to help people feel the connections between climate change and their daily lives and understand actions they can take.

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