There are few things more American than football. Millions of Americans gather around with friends and family every Sunday to watch all of the passes, plays and possessions.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that advertisers have capitalized on the huge amounts of attention paid to the NFL and its games.
It has not been until recently, however, that the solar community has thought to get in on the football action.
According to SolarChargedDriving.Com’s own informal tally, four NFL teams have installed solar either at their stadiums or at their practice facilities: The New England Patriots, the New York Jets, the Washington Redskins, and the Seattle Seahawks. The Buffalo Bills have installed micro wind turbines at Ralph Wilson stadium. Finally, in 2010, the Philadelphia Eagles announced plans to add 8.3 megawatts of micro-wind and solar power to Lincoln Financial Field.
Solar canopies go up at FedEx Field
Stadiums go green
In 2010, the Philadelphia Eagles announced that they were taking measures to update Lincoln Financial Field to greener standards. They have since been working to install solar, wind and biofuel energy at the stadium.
Also in 2010, the New York Jets installed a 690-kW solar power system at their headquarters and training facilities in Florham Park, New Jersey. It includes over 3,000 solar panels and produces more than 750,000 kW-hours of electricity per year.
After the 2010 Super Bowl, the Washington Redskins also started to work with NRG Energy, an independent power producer, in order to create “the largest installation [of solar] at an NFL stadium.
The result was impressive—a huge array of around 8,000 panels was installed above around 840 parking spots outside of FedEx Field, the home of the Redskins. There are also 10 charging station spots for electric vehicles, as well as a large “solar man” sculpture of a quarterback near the entrance.
According to David Crane, the CEO of NRG, the Redskins’ solar installation can create two megawatts of electricity, which is around 20 percent of the stadium’s needs on a game-day.
Some NFL players give hybrids, plug-ins boost
Aside from the NFL’s increasing interest in solar, a few NFL superstars have come out in favor of green driving.
Former Miami Dolphins quarterback and Hall of Famer Dan Marino reviewed the 2012 Nissan LEAF for AutoNationConnect.com in Nov. 2011.
Dan Marino Reviews the Nissan LEAF
In his review, Marino said of the LEAF: “It looks good, it handles great. It goes 90 miles an hour. It’s big enough.”
He also talked about his overall feeling towards EVs.
“The future is here,” he said.
Marino is not the only NFL QB promoting green driving, however.
Former Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton, recently picked up by Kansas City, is known for driving a hybrid Honda Insight, which gets around 44 mpg. Before the Insight, Orton also owned a Toyota Prius.
In an interview with Denver Post reporter Mike Klis, Orton spoke of his Insight.
“I’ve been driving a hybrid for four years now and I love it,” Orton said. “Everybody has their choice, and it’s a personal choice for me. I think it’s easy for someone to do.”
Fans catching on
With such a wide viewership, the NFL and its new interest in solar has started to create an impact in fans’ minds.
I certainly would love for the Broncos to use solar, but I don’t want to see ticket prices go up any more than they have been. If it’s something they can afford and it’s not too pricey, it’s something I’d love to see
–Shelly Kraus, Denver Broncos fan
A few fans had opinions on NFL solar power after the New York Jets vs. Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo.
Cory Nielsen, a Jets fan, was interviewed while trying to charge his phone.
“I guess if it they could make it happen I would support it, but I don’t know what all it would take to make it happen,” Nielsen said.
Season ticket holders Shelly and Kelly Kraus expressed interest in solar, but they were concerned about the costs.
“I think [solar] is a good thing,” Kelly said. “I think any way that we can help save energy is a good thing. I wouldn’t mind if the Broncos started using solar, I know the [Colorado] Rockies [Baseball Club] already does.”
Shelly agreed but emphasized her fear of higher ticket prices.
“I’m all for solar,” Shelly said. “I’m all about finding ways to make things better, and in finding energy. I certainly would love for the Broncos to use solar, but as a season ticket holder, I don’t want to see ticket prices go up any more than they have been either. If it’s something that they can afford and it’s not too pricey, it’s something I’d love to see.”
Image: Home to the Denver Broncos, Sports Authority Field isn’t among the NFL stadiums with on-site wind or solar — but the Broncos have purchased so-called Windsource Energy from Xcel Energy to offset the stadium’s energy use. [Photo by Anna Dreiling]