Super Bowl LVII: A Legacy of Sustainability, Community Outreach, and Empowerment

Super Bowl LVII Arizona

Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee

by | Feb 7, 2023

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Super Bowl LVII Arizona

(Credit: Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee)

The NFL is returning to Arizona for the fourth Super Bowl in the league’s history, but this time, it is poised to be the most environmentally conscious event yet. With a projected attendance of over 120,000 people in Phoenix, the NFL has been putting forth significant efforts to make this year’s Super Bowl a sustainable one.

Led by Susan and Jack Groh, the NFL’s Environmental Program has been actively collaborating with local organizers and community members in Arizona to implement and promote sustainable initiatives surrounding the Super Bowl and beyond.

History of Sustainability and the NFL

The NFL’s focus on sustainability started in the early 1990s when the Grohs approached the league ahead of Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta to discuss sustainability practices. This led to the establishment of the NFL’s Environmental Program and marked the beginning of sports sustainability in America. Initially, the focus was on recycling, as there was a lack of solid waste recycling at sports facilities across the country.

The success of that program has led to the establishment of three new objectives – reducing the NFL’s environmental impact, establishing a “green legacy” in the communities it operates in, and involving sponsors and fans in sustainability efforts.

Dedicated to being a responsible environmental steward, the NFL is focused on utilizing resources efficiently and reducing waste across all aspects of its business. The NFL’s environmental initiatives aim to promote sustainability in NFL events and facilities, as well as work with NFL teams to adopt eco-friendly practices in their operations.

Why is Arizona an Ideal Location for Super Bowl LVII?

Arizona first hosted the Super Bowl in 1996, two years after Susan and Jack Groh joined the NFL’s Environmental Program. Since then, the state has hosted the event twice more in 2008 and 2015, providing a benchmark for the NFL and community leaders to assess their progress.

“There’s just increasing importance and focus on sustainability initiatives here in Arizona,” said Jay Parry, host of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee. “There’s a real focus and intention from our local stakeholders to make sure that we are really being mindful about how we conduct our major event and also just leaning into sustainable businesses here in Arizona.” Further, Arizonans have only become more acutely aware of the impacts of climate change on their desert environment, according to Nick Shivka, senior manager of sustainability initiatives at the non-profit Local First Arizona.

“Coming into 2022 we are thinking a lot about waste beyond recycling. We’re thinking about how can we not only make materials out of natural materials — like cups and plates — at the Super Bowl, but how can we think about making them out of plants? The fact of the matter is that single-use is still single-use. And when we look at the numbers, being able to reuse materials is more sustainable every time. But the tough part about that is behavior change and getting people to believe in that system from the businesses to the consumers, etc.”

The Super Bowl LVII Business Connect program gathered over 200 companies for a year-long initiative aimed at providing local, diverse businesses in the Phoenix area with contract opportunities, professional development, and networking opportunities related to the Super Bowl. In collaboration with the Business Connect team and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, women, minority, LGBTQ+, and veteran-owned businesses in the program participated in virtual and in-person business development workshops to equip them with the necessary skills to secure contracts and job opportunities for Super Bowl LVII in Arizona.

What are Some of the Environmental Objectives the NFL has Set for Super Bowl LVII?

In partnership with local Arizonians, the NFL is working towards achieving a 92% waste diversion rate, a 20% increase from 2015, during the Super Bowl LVII. According to Parry, they are focused on properly recycling, composting, and disposing of waste. Shivka highlights the significance of these efforts as the Super Bowl generates profits from the large number of people visiting the state, which has natural resources that are at risk.

The NFL’s sustainability efforts are not limited to the game day, as they have already planted 57 trees in honor of Super Bowl 57, and have completed six planting projects with another six upcoming. The NFL aims to support long-lasting change and engage the whole state, according to Parry. The NFL has already planted over 500 trees in Arizona and is focusing on supporting Phoenix’s goal of becoming a 25% shade canopy, which can lower temperatures and reduce carbon footprint.

Local & National Partnerships Promoting Sustainability, DEI & Military

Susan Groh also mentioned the various agencies they are collaborating with in Arizona, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Forest Service, OdySea Aquarium, and Phoenix Zoo.

Super Bowl LVII will impact the Arizona community with more than 30 charitable activities

  • Inspire Change, the league’s social justice initiative, the NFL will work with three local community organizations to address the digital divide and the way it impacts youth.
    • Working with Chicanos Por La Causa, the Greater Phoenix Urban League, and Native American Connections, and the non-profit Compudopt, the NFL will provide laptops to hundreds of children impacted by unequal access to technology via a grant from the NFL Foundation.
  • Throughout the week the NFL will honor, empower, and connect with the military community through a number of Salute to Service-centered events.
    • The week will kick off with Military Appreciation Day at Super Bowl Experience presented by
      Lowe’s followed by the USA Wheelchair Football League Championships.
    • With support from an NFL and Bob Woodruff Foundation Salute to Service grant, Move United started a USA Wheelchair Football League for athletes with disabilities, including veterans.
    • During Super Bowl week, a Championship Game will showcase the sport and invite NFL Legends to serve as honorary captains.
    • NFL representatives will also visit Luke Air Force Base as part of its Community Day to meet and interact with service members from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force, including the pilots conducting the Super Bowl LVII flyover.
  • The NFL will support the LGBTQ+ community
    • A Night of Pride with GLAAD, presented by Smirnoff
    • The NFL will also welcome youth and their families from one-n-ten, a Phoenix-area nonprofit dedicated to serving and assisting LGBTQ+ individuals, for a special flag football clinic, featuring members of the Gay Flag Football League, at Super Bowl Experience.

According to the NFL, their goal is to create a lasting impact on the communities near the Super Bowl host city through the Super Bowl Legacy Grant Program. This program is made possible by the annual $1 million contribution from the NFL Foundation, which is matched by the Super Bowl Host Committee.

This year, the NFL and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee are supporting local non-profit organizations that have a proven record of serving underserved residents in Arizona. The selected organizations focus their efforts in the areas of Education, Health & Wellness, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Social Justice, and Environment & Sustainability. These non-profits work to improve access to quality education for youth, promote overall well-being, drive positive change for equality and accessibility, and implement food recovery and recycling initiatives.

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