The new Target Field in Minneapolis. Photo via GreenMark.
When the year's first calls of "Play ball!" are heard in baseball stadiums around the United States, the Minnesota Twins will be fielding their team on a field that's greener than ever. Among other eco-friendly features, the team's new Target Field will collect, filter, and reuse rainwater, reducing its municipal water footprint by 2 million gallons a year.As part of a recently announced partnership with Minneapolis-based company Pentair, Inc. and sponsorship agency GreenMark, the Twins are installing what what they are touting as the "the highest-profile sustainable water solution in sports to date." Underground cisterns will gather rainwater from the stadium's lower seating sections and field, an area about seven acres in size, that has been cleaned by a series of filtration and disinfection processes to a level equal to or better than municipal tap water standards. The stored water will be used to irrigate the field and clean the stadium.
Reducing Bottled Water Waste
The team estimates that the system will reduce its need for municipal water by more than 50 percent. Water-filtration systems installed throughout the clubhouse, offices, training rooms, and fan suites will meanwhile reduce the use of bottled water in the stadium.
"While clean water is a global issue, it really hits home for Twins fans in the City of Lakes, the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and the Great Lakes Region," said Twins President Dave St. Peter. "The Minnesota Twins are proud to introduce a new environmental standard in sports that moves beyond waste and clean-energy solutions to address water scarcity and quality, some of the most pressing environmental concerns of our time."
Giant underground cisterns will collect water below the field for reuse on it. Photo via GreenMark.
When I did a story two years ago on Major League Baseball's environmental initiatives, the Twins were one of the names that kept coming up. Hopes were high for the new Target Field, which was said to be vying with the Washington Nationals' Nationals Park for the title of the greenest ballpark of them all. The club's public-affairs director, Kevin Smith, excitedly told me about the construction process -- with biodiesel-fueled trucks recycling the asphalt that previously paved the site -- ideas for in-stadium recycling, and the Twins' hopes to have the ballpark become LEED certified. Smith personally looked forward to being able to ride a bike with his son to the stadium, which was being built in transit-accessible downtown Minneapolis.
A Missed Opportunity?
So it's a bit disappointing to see, just three months before the stadium's official opening, so little about such eco-friendly efforts on the Twins' website. Hopefully they're just being rolled out slowly for maximum press coverage and haven't been allowed to fall by the wayside. That would be a serious missed opportunity.
"Seventy-three million people went through the gates of major league ballparks in 2007. That's 73 million people we can touch with a message about environmental friendliness," Smith told me in early 2008, citing the plans for rainwater recycling as one of the ways the team hoped to have an impact. "If we've got 40,000 people in the ballpark and we've got a rain delay, [they'll know that] the rain they're going to see fall will be used on a nice sunny day."
More about sports and the environment:
How to Go Green: Outdoor Sports
Giants Ban Nasty Chemicals... From Team Uniforms
Chelsea Football Team is the Greenest, Plus Other Winners
NBA Green Week 2009 and Hockey Pros Give Emissions Reductions a Shot
Spoil Sports: 7 Activities that Damage the Environment
The Green Stampede Hits College Football - Greening the Gridiron
Treehugger Picks: Baseball Getting Greener
Football Season Is at Hand: Green Your Tailgating