Over the past decade since Hurricane Katrina hit the city of New Orleans, the city’s professional and collegiate sports teams have increased their respective focus on environmental history. The New Orleans Saints, New Orleans Pelicans, and Tulane Green Wave have all taken steps to improve the sustainability of the events they host and the stadiums they operate in order to mitigate the impact of spectator sports on the environment.
The Saints work with Progressive Waste Solutions in a collaborative recycling program, helping to divert waste from landfills. The NFL franchise also oversaw a $336 million renovation of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome that included an LED lighting system and an aluminum skin that improves insulation of the stadium. Further energy efficiency upgrades are in the planning and bid stages.
The Pelicans, rebranded after an expansion team reclaimed the Hornets moniker, were selected as the new mascot because the bird “symbolized Louisiana’s most pressing need for coastal restoration and wildlife conservation” in the aftermath of Katrina and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The NBA team was active in the cleanup efforts following the oil spill, host fundraisers to fund wetlands and Gulf of Mexico sustainability initiatives, and work with Audubon Nature Institute on an environmental education initiative in area schools.
Tulane, the sole Division I university in the city, made sustainability the centerpiece of its two newest athletic facilities. Yulman Stadium, the new home of the football team, was certified LEED Silver after its 2014 opening. The Hertz Center, providing practice facilities for the basketball and volleyball teams, received LEED Gold certification in 2012 thanks to design features such as the use of sustainably grown and harvested wood for the court surface.
All three organizations have shown a commitment to continuing their sustainability efforts, providing lasting benefits for the city of New Orleans and the communities in which they operate.