Sports Leagues Play Ball With Solar

Fenway Park, that “lyric little bandbox of a ballpark,” as John Updike put it, was built way back in 1912. And yet 28 solar panels at the home of the Boston Red Sox now generate more than a third of the electricity used to heat water in the park. That’s exactly the kind of thing the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is now promoting with a solar development guide it prepared for every team in Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer.

In a press release, the NRDC said it produced the guide with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to demonstrate that “the private sector does not have to wait for government action in order for them to address the urgent issue of climate change,” said NRDC Senior Scientist Allen Hershkowitz.

image via Heliodyne

While the guide points to newer arenas in sunny Los Angeles and Phoenix as taking best advantage of solar potential, it also emphasizes that less radiant cities can also play the game—even Seattle. There, managers of the Qwest Field and Event Center said they’re using the guide to develop proposals for installation of a rooftop system.

The NHL joined in distributing the guide to its teams, and league commissioner Gary Bettman cited a particular reason for doing so: “Our sport was born outdoors, in winter weather, and many of our players began skating on frozen lakes and ponds. We are acutely aware that our league, as well as all sports leagues, need to be responsible stewards of our planet.”

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.