Toward the end of last year, the Phoenix Suns became the first NBA team to announce that their stadium would end the use of single-use plastic during games in the upcoming season. While not a huge leap forward when compared to entire states that have banned plastic bags and other single-use plastics, the Suns’ arena, the Footprint Center, makes some movement for the environmental consciousness of massive sports arenas that don’t always have the best track record for green efforts. 

And while some newer stadiums, such as the Minnesota Vikings’ U.S. Bank Stadium, became the first stadium to receive LEED platinum certification in both construction and operations, there is still a long way to go for the majority of venues, especially older ones. 

Looking into the data, however, we see that a sports venue’s environmental sustainability is at least “somewhat important” for almost two-thirds (63%) of the entire population of adults who attend sports events in person. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this trend skews more liberal than conservative when broken down by political leanings. 

More surprising is that both the youngest and oldest populations care the most about sustainability, while the Gen Xers, with their famous cynical malaise, care the least.

Most relevantly, given that almost all stadiums are built in, or adjacent to, urban areas, we see that city dwellers care more than suburbanites and those who live in rural areas about the impact of stadiums. 

So while any new stadium development would be wise to incorporate sustainable construction or operational features, the process of building new stadiums, in general, is already mired in controversy.

What venues would be more poised to take on, similar to the Suns’ Footprint Center, is to begin cutting back on waste, including single-use plastics. And while attendees have noticed efforts to promote recycling in venues, they haven’t noticed much else, which implies that greater attention needs to be brought to the amount of waste professional and collegiate games produce. 

Overall, fans of the WNBA are most likely to care the most about the environmental sustainability of a sports venue. NASCAR fans are the least, which is likely not surprising to many, considering the sport is built on gas-powered vehicles for hours-long races. 

Interestingly, those who are fans of nearly all the major sports are more likely than those who aren’t to care about the environmental sustainability of their sports venues, which goes to show that the people actually visiting the stadiums care about the impact of those stadiums. Clearly, going green is a winning gameplan.