Yes, it sounds like a takeoff on one of those jokes that starts: "A priest, a rabbi, and a minister were in a rowboat..." But this is football – and the environment. And it's not humor. Actually, it shows that everyone is hopping aboard the green bandwagon.
The US Environmental Protection Agency sent out a press release crowing about its pigskin partnership with New York's two football teams. Well, not the teams themselves. The Jets and the Giants haven't suddenly announced a switch from harsh detergents to castile soap for washing the players' grungy uniforms.
Instead, the teams – as you may know if you're a football fan – are building a joint venue, New Meadowlands stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. It "will be one of the greenest stadiums in American professional sports,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou in the e-mailed release. “This ambitious, comprehensive plan set forth by the two team ownership groups is a blueprint for new sports venues everywhere.”
Hyperbole aside, what are they planning?
– Using 40,000 tons of recycled steel and choosing seating made partially from recycled plastic and scrap iron, reports the Star-Ledger's Jenny Vrentas.
– Cutting the stadium’s annual water use by 25 percent, making it 30 percent more energy efficient than Giants Stadium, says Environmental Leader. They'll achieve this, in part, by installing waterless urinals, which will save 2.7 million gallons of water, reports The Associated Press, Synthetic turf will save 3.5 million gallons of water compared to natural grass. (Wonder how the players feel about playing on artificial turf?)
– Providing new mass-transit options for fans, which will, they hope, eliminate 5.6 million miles of car travel each year.
– Reducing air pollution from construction vehicles by using cleaner diesel fuel, diesel engine filters, and shortening the amount of time engines are allowed to idle.
– Replacing traditional concession plates, cups, and carriers with alternatives that can be composted.
– "All told, the goals of the agreement stand to save the equivalent of the emissions of nearly 1.68 million metric tons of carbon dioxide during the stadium’s construction and its first year of operations," says GlobeSt.com. "According to the EPA, that’s equal to taking more than 300,000 cars off the road for a whole year or the emissions from the energy needed to power 150,000 American homes for one year."
The site of the stadium is also a rehabilitated former brownfield.
The owners were serious about their efforts to construct a more environmentally friendly stadium, but at a press conference, Giants chief executive John Mara and Jets owner Woody Johnson had some fun kidding about the "green" building. (The Giants' main color is blue, and the Jets' is green.) "What I will say to my friend Woody Johnson is that today and St. Patrick's Day will be the only two days that green is the preferred color in this building," Mara said.
But many are watching to see if this is the start a new trend in sports. The EPA certainly hopes so, calling the as-yet-unnamed New Jersey stadium a "beacon of green."