After a strange summer of negotiations, lawsuits, and daily media coverage of the event-formally-known-as-the-“lockout”, the NFL season kicks off Thursday night. In Indy, fans are particularly optimistic about the upcoming season with the Super Bowl date no longer in question and our beloved Colts hoping to make another successful run at the big game (with or without Peyton).
But it isn’t just the Colts that we love. Deep down, we still love the Pacers (and they will return to glory someday). Indy is gaga for motorsports and we have the most famous racetrack in the world. The Indians are a Minor League Baseball success story, and Indy remains the world’s unofficial amateur sports capital.
If only our passion for sports wasn’t so amazingly energy intensive! While we may lead the league in bleeding blue, the Indy sports scene is not so great at being green.
We need one of our city’s franchises to lead the way and I can think of no better organization to do so than the Colts.
Now I don’t have any scientific formula for choosing the Colts, but I base my challenge on a few assumptions. First, the NFL is the most popular sports league in the country. Second, the Colts have enjoyed a long winning streak and therefore have a ton of passionate fans. Three, Jim Irsay is a very wealthy man and I perceive him to be the kind of guy interested in making our community a better place. Four, Lucas Oil Stadium also hosts a ton of other events with attendance numbers that dwarf Conseco Fieldhouse.**
What kind of things could the Colts do to green up their franchise and venue? First of all is recycling. As it turns out, Mayor Ballard, the Colts and others recently announced that more than 200 recycling bins have been placed inside Lucas Oil Stadium. That’s a nice start, but I have to ask why they were not there in the first place? (Insert sarcasm) Did recycling not exist when the Colts made Lucas Oil their new home in 2008? Now it’s up to the fans to use them.
What about all that unused food from concessions and party trays in the suites? Could those be composted? I think so.
What else could make Lucas Oil Stadium and the Colts franchise greener? Could energy be used more wisely? Could water usage be reduced (1,400 toilets people!)? Could there be better encouragement of fans using public transportation? Could there be some vocal support for a mass transit plan that included a stop at Lucas Oil Stadium/Convention Center? Could that roof that’s almost always closed get some solar panels on it? Could there be pervious pavements in the parking lots? Could the grounds feature native plant landscaping? Could there be more local food/drink available inside?
The answer to all of these is yes.
It’s a shame that as one of the newest stadiums in the country, Lucas Oil Stadium isn’t managed with better environmental stewardship in mind. It wasn’t built with it in mind either; in fact, I remember reading an article in The Indianapolis Star a few years ago in which a construction professional said that many of the green building elements and techniques weren’t available when the plans for Lucas Oil were drawn up. Actually, green building has been around for decades – the reality is that it just wasn’t a priority.
And what about the Colts complex on 56th Street? I can imagine there are tons of opportunities to green up that place as well. It seems to me that wind turbines to offset some electricity would be an easy addition. Perhaps, Mr. Irsay could call up the folks from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and The Nature Conservancy’s Indianapolis headquarters and get some ideas for greening your building in an economically prudent manner.
The amazing thing about all of this is there is an organization dedicated to helping sports teams, venues and leagues enhance their environmental performance. The Green Sports Alliance is already boasting a nice list of members and partners and I for one would like to see the Colts and Lucas Oil Stadium on that list.
So what do you say Colts? I can’t think any other organization in this city that can rally so many people at once. Fans are just that – fanatics about their teams and what they stand for. Imagine the impact that could be accomplished by making the boys in blue green up their game.
** I mention Conseco Fieldhouse because you might be surprised – I know I was – to know that that the last-in-attendance Pacers drew 555,077 fans last season, while the Colts drew 535,802. By the way, the Indy 500 brings in roughly 400,000 fans on one day).
Ryan Puckett is principal of two21 LLC, a communication firm with a focus on providing creative content, advocacy and communications strategy for all things pertaining to sustainability. Ryan is an Indiana University-Bloomington grad and alum of Northwestern University’s School of Journalism. He lives in Broad Ripple with his wife, son and dog, is a veteran of 160+ Phish shows and is a long-suffering Cubs fan. Contact Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @rmpuckett.