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You are Not Allowed to Walk to the “Greenest” Super Bowl

You are Not Allowed to Walk to the “Greenest” Super Bowl

Super Bowl XLVIII, featuring my archenemies the Seattle Seahawks against the Denver Broncos, is about to go down. Millions of fans will be gathering around TV screens across the country to watch, but of course the best experience of all is available to those who get to see the magic in person at MetLife Stadium. Better yet, organizers are touting this as the “greenest Super Bowl ever,” with initiatives like composting, low water landscaping, Energy Star Certified equipment, donation of leftover food, a massive solar panel installation, and the use of recycled steel in construction.

In other words, you’d think these guys are pretty serious not just about sports, but also the environment, with all this hard work to make the match as eco-friendly as possible. We’re seeing the same kinds of initiatives in Sochi for the Winter Olympics, as well as Rio, indicating that in the sports world, green is in. Which is exciting news for those of us who like the Earth and think it should stick around in habitable form a little longer.

That’s why I was shocked to hear that despite all the green initiatives going on, patrons are not going to be allowed to walk to the Super Bowl. Biking and walking, as we know, are the most environmentally-friendly ways to get around, so you’d think they’d be methods of choice for the Bowl, but no go on the walking, my friends: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says that walking poses too much of a “safety concern” and he doesn’t want to see fans being injured on their way to the event.

Fair enough on the surface, but let’s dig a little deeper. For starters, people can’t even be dropped off by a vehicle at the stadium unless the vehicle has a parking permit — on the surface, this seems like a good idea, because it discourages people from taking private cars to the game, but it also implies that walking is really, really not desired. It’s also hard on people like disabled fans who might need to take private transit due to accessibility issues. Mass transit can be a nightmare with a wheelchair, walker, or cane when it’s crowded, and a private car may be the only option in these cases. Furthermore, some VIPs aren’t too pleased either, as they want to be able to take private hire car services to the game and now they can’t — unless they’re willing to have their cars sit around waiting for them for the duration of the event.

While fans can take New Jersey transit to MetLife Stadium, New Jersey’s public transit has been heavily criticized in the past, and it might have some shortcomings on game day, too. Meanwhile, the $51 “Fan Express” bus, which encouraged people to drive (sigh) to parking lots and take buses in, has already sold out. Writer Sean Conboy suggests the NFL’s draconian policies on options for getting to the stadium may be driven in part by financial motivators.

Many sports stadiums, MetLife included, are not really set up to be easily accessible on foot or by bike (despite bike racks at MetLife), which points to a larger shortcoming in stadium design, but it’s especially irksome to be informed that walkers are officially not allowed. Especially at a green event, initiatives to encourage alternative transit, like the cooperation between New Jersey’s public transit system and the NFL, should be boosted over parking or using private hire bus services. And hey, if people want to walk or bike to the game…why not let them?

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Photo credit: John Tornow.

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107 comments

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10:07AM PST on Feb 9, 2014

There's no point in even trying to go to the game. Better off staying warm at home.

5:53AM PST on Feb 6, 2014

Thanks for sharing!

12:25AM PST on Feb 6, 2014

Thanks for sharing!

4:35PM PST on Feb 5, 2014

thx

8:04PM PST on Feb 4, 2014

Perhaps cars should have been banned from the area instead. Walking and cycling are healthy and environmentally-friendly ways to go, and should be encouraged. Cycling in particular can be a good way for people to commute reasonable distances. Here at Care2 we should be lobbying for cycle paths for cycle commuters.

7:01AM PST on Feb 4, 2014

I watched the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet and the Kitten Bowl on the Hallmark channel sand I enjoyed watching the puppies and kitten so much better than any football game.

5:27AM PST on Feb 4, 2014

Thanks for the post! For more on the intersection of Green & Sports, check out GreenSportsBlog…This post features Green Super Bowl I, which pitted Seattle vs. Denver from a green POV: http://greensportsblog.com/2014/01/21/denver-broncos-vs-seattle-seahawks-green-super-bowl-i/

3:11AM PST on Feb 4, 2014

Thanks for Sharing

8:26PM PST on Feb 3, 2014

Anything to gouge the last dime from the fan's pocket.

4:52PM PST on Feb 3, 2014

Kathrynelizabet E, I didn't watch the Super Bowl either-unless the Baltimore Ravens are playing (they're our home team, and I also have some interesting memories of working security at the stadium during the first round of playoffs back in 2001, the first year they won the Super Bowl), I generally tune out. Like you, I watched the Kitten Bowl (partly because the kids threatened to take no prisoners if I didn't) and the Puppy Bowl-major cuteness overload! After that, I watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

However, I was annoyed as hell that yesterday was Groundhog Day (in addition to Imbolc for the Wiccans and Pagans out there), and not ONE TV station was showing the movie "Groundhog Day." Not ONE. Even AMC, which paid homage to the day and the movie by showing it repeatedly (much like the way the day repeats itself ad infinituum in the movie), sold out and broadcast a Walking Dead marathon instead! WTF?

Anyway, congrats to the Seahawks!

And Borg D, it wouldn't just be a marathon of a walk-swimming across the Atlantic at this time of year would be an exercise in hypothermia too!

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