By Council for Responsible Sport


Just in time for Earth Day, the Tampa Bay Local Organizing Committee (TBLOC) is pleased to announce that for the first time in major event history, the community has been awarded the Evergreen sustainability certification by the Council for Responsible Sport as a result of an orchestrated effort during the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four.

“The Evergreen level certification of the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four in Tampa is particularly impressive not only because of the intentional activation of nearly all the best practice standards for hosting responsible sports events but also because of the sophisticated approach the Tampa Bay Local Organizing Committee took to achieving its goal,” stated Shelley Villalobos, Managing Director of the Council for Responsible Sport. “From start to finish, they built a great team, engaged stakeholders and collaborated broadly to get the work done. They did a terrific job and have much to be proud of.”

The TBLOC with the support of TECO Energy, Amalie Arena, Copperhead Charities and the local sustainability subcommittee planned a wide range of impactful events designed to engage residents, businesses, and visitors to help create a more environmentally conscious event. Through these efforts, Tampa Bay successfully earned the prestigious Evergreen status. To achieve Evergreen certification, the Council for Responsible Sport identifies five categories the host city must consider. Highlights from the TBLOC’s initiatives include the following:

Planning & Communications

In preparation for its sustainability efforts, the TBLOC devised a clear, thought-out communications plan including a dedicated education page on the official event website, communication efforts that centered on potential community impacts such as road closures and traffic, and information about public transportation options available throughout the championship. In addition, for the first time in Local Organizing Committee history, 24 of Tampa Bay’s most influential women served as members of the TBLOC Advisory Committee, providing oversight and input related to community engagement, grassroots marketing, promotional campaigns, social and legacy initiatives, volunteer recruitment, and overall strategic planning.


The TBLOC worked to ensure that locally sourced products and service partners were utilized whenever possible. While at the arena, student-athletes and media enjoyed locally sourced, organic food options provided by Delaware North. In addition, in-venue catering featured vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers from Amalie Arena’s hydroponic garden.

Resource Management

The TBLOC’s sustainability subcommittee, composed of community partners, local experts, and sustainability thought leaders,  created unique ways for the community to get involved including an open-to-the-public Women’s Final Four campus clean-up focused on the downtown footprint, as well as implementing an in-venue initiative called “Caught Green Handed” which secretly rewarded guests when exhibiting positive, sustainable behavior.

The 2019 Women’s Final Four ‘Sustainability Squad’ volunteers in Tampa Bay recognized fans who exhibited sustainable behaviors like refilling water bottles and sorting their waste properly with waste preventing rewards. (Photo: Tampa Bay Local Organizing Committee)

The 2019 Women’s Final Four ‘Sustainability Squad’ volunteers in Tampa Bay recognized fans who exhibited sustainable behaviors like refilling water bottles and sorting their waste properly with waste preventing rewards. (Photo: Tampa Bay Local Organizing Committee)

In partnership with Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Convention, the TBLOC hosted a new and gently used sporting goods drive benefiting Replay Tampa Bay. These items, along with unused basketballs from the BOUNCE presented by Buick and Tourney Town presented by Capital One events, were donated to local children in need.

Finally, the purchase of renewable energy credits and water restoration certificates were a vital part of the Resource Management category. The TBLOC purchased 740 renewable energy blocks through TECO Energy to help offset and facilitate a carbon-neutral event. Also, Hilton Downtown Tampa, the headquarter hotel of the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four, purchased 183 renewable energy blocks offsetting over 36,000 kWh of electric usage during championship weekend. Additionally, Amalie Arena restored 100,000 gallons of water through Bonneville Environmental Foundation restoration certificates.

Access & Equity

Local guests and visitors were provided access to several free events throughout championship weekend including Tourney Town presented by Capital One, BOUNCE presented by Buick, and the Super Saturday Night Concert presented by AT&T. Additionally, more than 200 local youth participated in the NCAA Youth Clinic programming to teach healthy training and lifestyle skills. Finally, the NBA Academy participated in a special on-court session with kids from the Jeff & Penny Vinik Family Boys & Girls Club at Winston Park in the Dream Court Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.

Community Legacy

Women’s initiatives took center stage and helped to leave a lasting legacy in Tampa Bay. Beginning in November and culminating during championship weekend, the TBLOC hosted Beyond the Baseline, a series of professional and educational sessions to empower, educate and inspire women and girls. In addition, the TBLOC launched and executed a media mentoring program for young girls in sixth through twelfth grade interested in working in the sports media industry. Five young ladies from the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida were invited to participate in the 20-week program where they were paired with local women who specialize in sports media, PR and communications.

“We are grateful to the NCAA, our invested partners at TECO Energy, Amalie Arena and Copperhead Charities as well as our sustainability subcommittee, local organizing committee, and volunteers that each supported sustainability as a core value and key factor while planning and executing the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four,” said Claire Lessinger, the Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Local Organizing Committee. “Achieving evergreen status is an outstanding benchmark accomplishment and it has set a new standard for major events in Tampa Bay.”

About the Tampa Bay Sports Commission

The Tampa Bay Sports Commission (TBSC), host of the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four, is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating social and economic impact through sports and entertainment in the Tampa Bay Area. As part of the championship efforts, the Tampa Bay Sports Commission provides local expertise, marketing and event management, and is responsible for raising the funds required to produce the Women’s Final Four and all supporting events.

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