It was an announcement that brought in heavy hitters from the world's environmental arena, international media and the top brass in the Eagles' organization because, in the big picture, it changes everything about the way a sports arena should be operated -- fan friendly, state of the art and ground-breaking in its environmental footprint.
The Eagles held a press conference on Thursday morning to announce their partnership with Solar Blue, a joint venture that will make Lincoln Financial Field the first major sports stadium in the world to convert to self-generated renewable energy using a combination of onsite wind, solar and dual-fuel generated electricty.
"The Philadelphia Eagles are proud to take this vital step towards energy independence from fossil fuels by powering Lincoln Financial Field with wind, solar and dual-fuel energy sources," said team owner and chief executive officer, Jeffrey Lurie. "This commitment builds upon our comprehensive environmental sustainability program, which includes energy and water conservation, waste reduction, recycling, composting, toxic chemical avoidance and reforestation. It underscores our strong belief that environmentally sensitive policies are consistent with sound business practices."
Solar Blue, based in Florida, is going to invest close to $30 million over the next year to build, install, maintain and operate this new power system that will include approximately 80 spiral-shaped wind turbines, 2,500 solar panels and an onsite dual-fuel cogeneration plant. The power system is targeted to be ready to go for September, 2011. Solar Blue anticipates employing 200 local residents during the one-year design & installation period. Fifty of these jobs will be permanent operational positions. Additionally, Solar Blue will create 600 indirect regional jobs to employ contractors, vendors and suppliers, as needed.
For years, of course, the Eagles' Go Green program has been lauded internationally as the model for professional sports franchises. The Eagles have taken the leading role both at the NovaCare Complex and at Lincoln Financial Field in the day-to-day care for the environment. The recycling program is a staple of daily life as an Eagle -- the Eagles recycled 365 tons of waste in 2009, accumulating a recycling rate of 31.7 percent -- and all of the team's football and corporate operations have been powered by the sun and wind.
"With this ground-breaking initiative, the Eagles are taking another significant step forward in their commitment to environmental responsibility and to their community," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "The work of the Eagles' Go Green initiative in raising environmental awareness and implementing green programs is a tribute to the leadership of the organization. The NFL is proud to support the Eagles and Christina and Jeffrey Lurie as they set the right example for all of sports."
Hey, look, we're all excited about Sunday night's nationally-televised game against the Giants, and about the Eagles sharing first place in the NFC East and about the direction this football team is taking. It is riveting, on the edge-of-your-seat stuff.
But the Eagles are more than football as they have demonstrated through their internationally-recognized efforts with Eagles Youth Partnership, the Pennsylvania philanthropy awards they have won and the recognition by the city as a model community and corporate partner in Philadephia.
It certainly is about winning the Super Bowl here, and it is also about making a long-lasting positive impact in every corner of the world. Ambitious goals, indeed, but the Eagles are achieving them one step at a time.
"The Philadelphia Eagles have been great corporate citizens for many years most specifically working with disadvantaged youth throughout the City," said Mayor Michael Nutter. "But we also know the Eagles to be green, they don't just wear green they sincerely believe in the concept of responsible environmental stewardship. We appreciate their commitment to an issue that is at the core of the City's Greenworks Philadelphia Plan, to become the Greenest City in America.
"Today's announcement will help reduce the City's carbon footprint, create hundreds of much needed green jobs and put our City on the world stage. This type of forward thinking will serve as an excellent example to every organization that wants to play a role in strengthening our local economy while helping the environment."
It is an incredible win-win for everyone. The Eagles set the pace for every team in every league to become as environmentally-conscious as possible. The fans win because the stadium becomes more efficient and, of course, the health benefits are many to everyone. The City of Philadelphia benefits in many ways, from the environmental side of things to the generation of jobs to the enhanced image as a green city in America.
Said Eagles owner Christina Lurie: "We believe the iconic stature and universal appeal of professional sports can become a powerful, visible, motivating example of how renewable energy sources can replace fossil fuels and create a cleaner, sustainable environment for people everywhere."