After incorporating social and environmental impact considerations into the 2019 NCAA Men’s Final Four® this April, the Minneapolis Local Organizing Committee has been awarded silver level sustainability certification from the Council for Responsible Sport (Council). This is Minneapolis’ first time earning certification as a responsible event host city, adding to a lengthy list of efforts that are garnering the city a reputation as a sustainable sport leader and hotspot.
“In Minneapolis, our standards for excellence in the sports sector include positive economic, social and environmental outcomes,” said Kate Mortenson, President and CEO of the 2019 Minneapolis Final Four Local Organizing Committee. “Significant sports events, thoughtfully developed, can be transformational within the communities that host them.”
The Minneapolis Local Organizing Committee, the NCAA and their partners planned a wide range of activities and actions designed to minimize the environmental impacts and resource use of the events while maximizing contributions to the communities for whom Minneapolis is home. The economic performance of the event exceeded estimates, bringing in more than $143 million in spending.
The Responsible Sport Certification includes five categories that the host must consider. Highlights from the on-site evaluation and post-event verification performed by the Council included:
1) Planning & Communications
The organizing committee created a well thought-out sustainability plan and partnered with the University of Minnesota, The University of St. Thomas and the University of Louisville to increase capacity for project implementation. The primary venue, US Bank Stadium, utilizes best practices in energy, water and waste management, and recently became the first professional sports stadium to achieve LEED Platinum certification for Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M) for existing buildings. LEED Platinum is the highest rating level offered by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
The organizing committee made efforts to procure items from local and women-owned businesses, share sustainability best practices with event-related service providers, and Green Team volunteer t-shirts were made from 100 percent recycled plastic polyester fibers.
3) Resource Management
Fans could easily get to US Bank Stadium via light rail, bus, and commuter rail, and all venues were navigable within a mile of each other on foot, eliminating the need for single occupancy vehicles to transport the more than 72,000 visitors on event days. Volunteers were provided unlimited free Metro transit for the course of the event week. Over 70 Green Team volunteers from nearby universities and colleges collected materials and helped recycle 43,440 pounds of plastic, aluminum, paper and cardboard and compost 42,860 pounds of organic and biodegradable wastes. 6,427 pounds of unused, unserved food was donated to Loaves & Fishes, a nonprofit organization serving free, healthy meals to those in need in ten Minnesota counties.
4) Access & Equity
Organizers created a 31-person Impact Advisory Council of dedicated community leaders from varied sectors who volunteered their time and expertise to ensure the event was as inclusive as possible and provided opportunities for all Minnesotans. As a result of intentional focus, 90% of Local Organizing Committee discretionary spending, over three million dollars, was with diverse team members, vendors and service providers. Reese’s® Final Four Friday®, allowing viewing of team practices and an all-star game before the semifinal games, and the March Madness Music Series, featuring top national talent, were both made free and open to the public to give access to participation for all. This inclusive statewide outreach approach led to record attendance across multiple weekend events.
5) Community Legacy
Two teams of cancer fighters — the Hardwood Heroes —kicked off the Final Four® by going head-to-head to raise awareness for cancer research, and as a part of INFINITI’s ongoing partnership with the NCAA® and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), INFINITI presented a $1 million donation to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Also, with money from NCAA corporate partner Dove Men+Care and volunteers assisting with the work, a project to renovate the gym at Minneapolis’ North Commons Park included a completely new basketball court, new backboards and rims, wall padding, a wireless public address system, LED lighting and fresh paint.
“The host committee in Minneapolis did a great job finding meaningful ways to connect community values to this national-scale premiere event while giving fans an unforgettable experience. The ease of use of transit options and walkability between sites, the enthusiastic Green Team crew in the stadium during the games, and the renovation of the North Commons basketball courts stand out as efforts that the event partners should be quite proud of that really show what responsible sports events can look like in action.” said Shelley Villalobos, managing director of the Council for Responsible Sport.
About Sports Minneapolis
The mission of Sports Minneapolis is to recruit, enhance and produce sporting events in the Minneapolis area for the benefit of our community. We do this by partnering with event rights holders to assist them with venue selection, event services, volunteer identification, marketing and promotional support, and on-site recognition opportunities in order to assure a successful event.