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Sports stadiums across America are raking in cash thanks to a surprising shift: 'Our number one global challenge'

Sports stadiums and arenas are saving money at the same time that they're protecting the environment.

Sports stadiums

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Sports stadiums across America are saving money and protecting the environment at the same time.

In 2017, Mercedes-Benz Stadium — home of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons — became the first U.S. sports stadium to receive a LEED Platinum Certification, CNBC reports. The LEED rating system measures whether a building is healthy for people and good for the environment, with platinum being the highest certification available. 

A building must earn points in multiple areas, including energy efficiency, waste reduction, protection for water and wildlife, and minimal air pollution, to receive the certification. 

Mercedes-Benz Stadium didn't stop there, CNBC reported. Arthur Blank, the arena's owner, has since pushed for more eco-friendly policies, including a plan to eliminate landfill trash. Given how many fans come to every Falcons game and how much food they buy, zero-waste might have seemed impossible at first.

But with a $1 million investment, Mercedes-Benz Stadium met some of its lofty goals, according to CNBC

The venue cut back on single-use plastics like wrappers and straws and switched to compostable options wherever possible. Not only was it successful, but the stadium now saves a reported $400,000 per year on these materials, meaning the move will pay for itself in under three years.

The renovation of KeyArena in Seattle had similar goals. In 2019, it partnered with Amazon to establish the Climate Pledge initiative. The group of businesses involved has committed to achieving "net-zero carbon" in its operations by 2040. This means that for every bit of heat-trapping carbon air pollution they produce, they pledge to remove the same amount from the atmosphere somehow.

According to CNBC, eco-friendly programs like these are getting more popular in stadiums and sports arenas. And the more successful these programs are, the more likely they are to spread to other arenas.

Not only that, but the programs could influence businesses in other industries, too. 

"Everyone understands that the environment is our number one global challenge," Steve Cannon, vice chairman of AMB Sports and Entertainment Group, told CNBC

"The platform that sports represents has a disproportionate impact on our society at large, so if you think about the aggregated impact of all ballparks and stadiums across America diverting waste from landfills, that's huge, but where it becomes even more important is the power of the platform to influence other businesses — then you start to really make meaningful change."

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