When Green Bay and Pittsburgh face off Sunday in Super Bowl XLV, the game will showcase the U.S. National Football League's newest and largest stadium, while also highlighting a move to greener design and cleaner energy at arenas worldwide.
The eco-friendly side of Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, won't be as obvious to fans as the huge retractable roof, the monumental arches above the playing field, or the canted glass exterior wall. But the restoration of a flood-prone creek outside the stadium before the facility opened last summer, complete with native grasses, trees and trails, was designed in part to help create an atmosphere where fans were less tied to their cars.
"It sets the table for all of the pedestrian mobility that we want to promote in the area," says Pete Jamieson, director of parks and recreation for Arlington. "We want people to park, get out of their cars and walk." Coincidentally, months before the Packers, based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, clinched their Super Bowl berth, a Wisconsin firm—Applied Ecological Services—was tapped for the $13 million project. (As a gag, the firm would sometimes pencil Green Bay’s symbol on the stadium design drawings, recalls Jacob Blue, AES senior landscape architect.)
There are even more impressive efforts at energy-saving in sports stadiums around the world, through use of solar panels, wind turbines, efficient lighting, recycling and water management systems. It’s a "golden age" in the greening of stadiums and arenas, says Allen Hershkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has been advising major U.S. professional leagues on ways to reduce their environmental impact.
—Marianne Lavelle and Christina Nunez