Turfs, Stadiums and Sustainable Technologies - An Amazing Match-up

Now that it’s January, the focus across the country has switched to taxes and football playoffs.  Indeed, the NFL is one of the largest organizations in the country, dominating the attention of fiercely loyal fans.  But, every game requires a lot of resources to operate the stadiums for the hours of gameplay.  Consider the lights, scoreboards, video boards, bathrooms, and concession stands that all need energy resources.  From a practical standpoint, NFL team owners have been looking at ways to employ renewable solutions in order to reduce the cost of operating the stadium on game days.

 Last year’s championship game was played at NRG Field in Houston, which employs a 180kW solar system to help power the stadium.  There are a number of NFL stadiums that have installed solar panels to help defer the cost on game days, and to lessen their impact to the grid. According to Energy Sage:


·         Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia Eagles: 3,000 kW

·         FedEx Field – Washington Redskins: 2,000 kW

·         Gillette Stadium – New England Patriots: 1,000 kW

·         CenturyLink Field – Seattle Seahawks: 800 kW

·         Levi’s Stadium – San Francisco 49ers: 375 kW 

 This year’s championship game will be played in Minneapolis, MN at U.S. Bank Stadium.  According to the Minnesota Vikings website, when it opened in 2016, it received LEED Gold certification for efficient use of building materials and for incorporating energy offsets.  Additionally, the stadium’s ETFE roof increases natural light, helps to lessen the need for heating elements in the stadium and helps melt the snow on the roof, which is particularly helpful in Minnesota. 

Last year, the Atlanta Falcons opened their brand-new facility, Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  The building was constructed with an interest in incorporating renewable and sustainable technologies, including solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, bicycle valet services, public walking access to the stadium, and storm water retention facilities.  All of these technologies helped the Atlanta stadium to become the first professional sports arena to receive a platinum LEED certification, according to Climate Action

While there is charm in older stadiums, there is limited ability to upgrade them to take advantage of new renewable and sustainable technologies.  The oldest stadiums in the league such as New Era Field (Buffalo, 1973), Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, 1972), and Lambeau Field (Green Bay, 1957) all have gone through renovations to bring infrastructure up to more modern standards, but will never be able to compete with new stadiums being built in 2017 and beyond.  However, the cost of constructing a new stadium is also very expensive, and potentially prohibitive for smaller markets such as the ones just mentioned.  Recycling, water conservation, and public access upgrades can be incorporated to existing stadiums.  Adding solar panels would require a roof or open field area near the stadium – two key aspects that were likely not considered when these stadiums were originally constructed.

As the NFL continues to be a major part of the landscape of America, teams and owners will look to incorporate renewable and sustainable technologies into their facilities in order to cut costs.  In doing so, they will also be helping to promote the expanded use of these technologies, hopefully leading to a cleaner and healthier planet for all of us. 

We look forward to your comments.  If you have questions, please contact a member of our team at info@rodmancpa.com.