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A view of Progressive Field from high above home plate.

Opening day ignites the passion of baseball fans nationwide, transforming stadiums into vibrant arenas of excitement and anticipation. However, behind the scenes, the energy demands of Opening Day spectacles are substantial. With the average MLB stadium boasting 45,000 seats, the power needed to illuminate the field, operate concessions, and entertain the crowds is monumental. Fortunately, a new era of sustainability is dawning in the world of sports, with stadiums like Cleveland’s Progressive Field leading the charge towards a greener future. Below, we explore Progressive Field’s opening day energy demands and their sustainability and conservation initiatives, highlighting their eco-friendly influence in professional baseball.

Opening Day Energy Usage at Progressive Field

Opening day is not only the official start of baseball season, but also marks the beginning of spring. For many areas of the country, opening day is the first major outdoor event of the year, with thousands of fans flocking to sold-out stadiums everywhere. 

Cleveland’s Progressive Field has been sold out of opening day tickets since February, with an anticipated turnout of roughly 35,000 Guardians fans. This is no anomaly, the Cleveland Guardians have sold out every opening game for the past 31 years. Whether it’s the optimism of the first pitch, or the smell of a ballpark hot dog, Clevelanders gather from far and wide to celebrate opening day, 

But how much energy does it take to power the pomp and circumstance on April 8th? According to Duke University, baseball stadiums use an astounding 10 megawatts of power each game, enough to power 8,000 American homes. Despite the significant energy demands of major league baseball, Progressive Field’s commitment to sustainability offers a beacon of hope for a greener future in sports stadiums nationwide.

A view of Progressive Field from in front of the stadium.
Photo from the official MLB.com

The Cleveland Guardians’ Energy Conservation Initiatives

For more than a decade, the Cleveland Guardians have been sustainability leaders in the professional sports industry.  Starting in 2008, the Guardians started their “Our Tribe is Green” campaign to encourage fans to participate in their sustainability initiatives.  Between becoming the first MLB stadium to install solar panels and creating a groundbreaking recycling and composting program, Progressive Field champions environmentally friendly practices both on and off the field. Below, we detail how the Cleveland Guardians have hit a homerun for sustainability.

Onsite Solar Energy Generation

In 2007, Progressive Field became one of the first major league baseball stadium to install an onsite solar energy system. With 42 highly-visible solar panels, Progressive Field supplies 8.4 kilowatts of renewable solar power each year to power the stadium’s more than 400 televisions. Since installation, their solar panels have reduced greenhouse gas emissions and decreased their energy consumption equivalent to powering 1,225 homes for a day. 

LED Lighting Upgrades

Prior to the 2017 season, Progressive Field upgraded their lighting to a highly-efficient LED system. More than 450 thousand-watt LED fixtures were installed, reducing their energy consumption by 50%. Their LED lights are 20-30% brighter and last significantly longer than their previous lighting system, reducing maintenance costs as well. 

Robust Waste Management

Waste Management: Within a two year span from 2007-2009, Progressive Field cut their trash in half from 1,262 tons to 613 tons. This significant reduction reduced their number of trash compactor pick-up by 64%, saving $50,000 in waste management costs.

Dedication to Recycling: With more than 125 recycling receptacles around the ballpark, fans and players alike recycle more than 300 tons of materials each season.  

Turning Compost into Renewable Energy: By investing in a Grind2Energy composting system, Progressive Field is able to turn compost into renewable transportation fuel or energy generation. In 2018, the stadium diverted 85 tons of food waste through this program. 

Supporting Local Food Banks & Other Charitable Organizations

In addition to their comprehensive waste management policies, Progressive Field makes a concerted effort to reduce food waste. Each season, the Cleveland Guardians donate more than 18,000 pounds of food to the Cleveland Foodbank after home games. This translates to roughly 14,300 or more meals to feed Northeast Ohio residents in need. 

Energy Efficiency & Conservation Initiatives

Beyond these two great sustainability achievements, Progressive Field continuously improves their eco-friendly efficiency measures. Energy conservation practices among office staff have helped reduce Progressive Field’s annual energy consumption from 23 million kWh to 17 million kWh. A few of their efficiency initiatives include power-down procedures for lighting and electronics and educating both employees and fans about mindful conservation practices. 

Sustainability Awards and Accolades

Green Awareness Day: Cleveland was the first MLB franchise to host a Green Awareness Day in 2010. During this event, fans received a ball cap made of 100% recycled plastic bottles.

Gold Level in Ohio EPA’s Encouraging Environmental Excellence Program: In 2015, the Cleveland Guardians took sustainability one step further, receiving Gold Level Member Status in the Ohio EPA’s Encouraging Environmental Excellence program. This status was awarded to the ballpark for their forward-thinking sustainability initiatives and robust recycling program. 

Common Sustainability Initiatives in MLB Ballparks

Ballparks have incredibly unique energy demands because they’re one of the few building types that sees a massive swing in occupants on a regular basis. For example, MLB parks go from minimal maintenance staff during the off-season to more than 40,000 fans on opening day. This intense fluctuation in energy demand continues throughout the season, varying significantly between home and away games. With unique energy demands of this magnitude, energy efficiency measures are essential to operations.  

There are 30 MLB stadiums across the county, each presenting a unique opportunity to engage their communities with sustainability. Most stadiums have implemented sustainability and efficiency measures such as integrating LED lighting and implementing comprehensive recycling and waste management programs. However, many MLB stadiums are taking an extra step towards sustainability by adopting robust energy management systems, installing green roofs or living walls, and integrating renewable energy sources like solar panels or wind turbines.

Powering Major League Baseball with solar energy

In 2022, more than 40 million Americans attended a solar-powered sporting event. 30% of MLB stadiums have adopted solar energy to offset their substantial energy demands. The amount of solar power generated by MLB stadiums could cook an astounding 700 million ballpark hot dogs each year. While baseball season brings intense energy demands, integrating renewable energy sources is making a major difference in MLB’s carbon emissions. 

The adoption of solar energy is just one example of how MLB stadiums are embracing sustainability initiatives to reduce their environmental impact. Cleveland’s Progressive Field is among the top 10 most sustainable baseball stadiums in the country, showcasing the industry’s commitment to greener practices. 

How You Can Help Reduce Energy Consumption This Opening Day?

Consider Taking Public Transit: Eliminate parking expenses and the emissions your car emits while in game day traffic by taking public transit to attend opening day.

Bring a Clear Bag: Help expedite the security process with appropriate bags. Clear bags enable security staff to quickly inspect the contents, reducing wait times and the energy needed to run metal detectors and other security equipment.

Bring a Reusable Water Bottle: Reduce plastic water bottle waste by bringing your own water bottle to the stadium. By using one of Progressive Field’s 22 drinking fountains, you’ll also save money avoiding concession prices!

Order Food and Refreshments at One Time:  Minimize the number of times fridges and freezers are opened by consolidating food and refreshment orders. Each time a fridge or freezer opens or closes, cold air escapes, leading to increased energy consumption to maintain the desired temperature. 

Recycle and Compost Trash: After finishing your refreshments, seek out Progressive Field’s 185 bottle-shaped recycling and composting bins to help reduce stadium waste. 

Participate in Charitable Activities: Consider participating in one of the Guardians’ charitable events! Visit the Guardians’ Charities and Fundraising calendar to see how you can get involved this season!

Stepping Up to the Plate: Celebrating Sustainability in the MLB

Overall, major league baseball is making great strides in addressing the intense energy demands of baseball stadiums. Regardless of which team you’re rooting for on opening day, behind the scenes each MLB team is pursuing sustainability upgrades. From solar panel installation to recycling and water conservation programs, there are countless ways to reduce the carbon footprint at sports stadiums. 

Through their energy conservation initiatives, Progressive Field stands as an environmental leader in professional baseball. Based in Cleveland, Integrity Energy is one of the country’s largest commercial energy brokers. We’re dedicated to sharing the latest innovations in the energy industry. Our energy experts leverage our partnership with more than 30 top-rated energy providers to secure the most competitive energy plans on the market. If you would like to take control of your business’s energy expenses, request a free quote from our energy experts. Partner with Integrity Energy to reduce your energy costs today!