Think Super Bowl and sustainability doesn’t immediately spring to mind.
As the most-watched sporting event in the US, with a record 115.1 million viewers watching in 2023 – the Super Bowl has some staggeringly unsustainable statistics behind it.
Like the 1,000 private jets expected to fly to Las Vegas for this year’s Super Bowl LVIII. Or the extensive travel miles and US$215 million estimated spend on F&B, hotels and merchandise by some 72,000 fans. Then there's the estimated 2,000 tonnes of food waste generated.
Not to mention, the number of kilowatt-hours of energy that is consumed by watching the Super Bowl, according to General Electric, and the carbon footprint of Super Bowl advertising.
It’s not just the financial cost of Super Bowl advertising that is high (a 30-second ad in 2024 costs US$7 million, that’s US$230,000 per second) – but the environmental cost too.
Super Bowl advertising produced as much carbon dioxide as 100,000 Americans or around 2 million tonnes of CO2 in 2021, according to data from iSpot.tv.
From the energy consumption needed to power stadiums, to the travel expenditure and food waste – like many huge sporting events, the Super Bowl has a substantial footprint associated with it.
But change is afoot – and the NFL's Super Bowl is on a mission to green its event.
Will Super Bowl LVIII be the Greenest Yet?
For the first time ever, Super Bowl LVIII, which takes place in Las Vegas on Sunday, February 11, 2024 and pits the San Francisco 49ers against the Kansas City Chiefs, will be fully powered by renewable energy.
More than 621,000 solar panels in the Nevada desert will be used to 100% power the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas – thanks to a 25-year agreement the stadium has mad with NV Energy.
NV Energy’s solar panel installation produces enough to power 60,000 homes, more than enough to power the Super Bowl, which needs 10 megawatts (46,000 homes).
That’s not the only sustainability credentials behind the Las Vegas stadium, whose roof is made from a recyclable plastic material that provides climate adaptability, insulation, sel-cleaning and durability.
What’s more, the stadium has put in place measures to deal with waste.
Rather than end up in landfills, around 12,000 pounds of food waste from the Super Bowl will collected and donated to local live-stock farms and used to feed the animals.
Also, the American Super Bowl LVIII committees and the NFL Green have implemented the Green Initiative at the Las Vegas Indian Center.
Launched last year by the Super Bowl league, NFL Green is an initiative that leads community projects to restore ecosystems and habitats, from tree planning to reforestation.
The aim is to plant trees and create green spaces and seedling restoration projects.
“The Super Bowl is here and gone, but when we are able to implement these greening projects throughout the community, it leaves a lasting legacy and just an impact that lasts for years to come,” say Susan Groh from NFL Green.
Greening the Super Bowl
This isn’t the first time the Super Bowl has taken a more sustainable path.
In 2022, for the Super Bowl LVI, the event’s committee collaborated with the NFL and Verizon to deliver a greener event – working to enhance air quality, establish community gardens, and even restore a California kelp forest.
Waste management has been a key focus too, from recycling to composting. In 2020, the Hard Rock Stadium aimed for zero waste following a collaboration with recycling centres and a compost facility.
Super Bowl stakeholders including the NFL are also using certified carbon credits to offset emissions, including emissions caused by flying to the event. Among the various offset projects, the Super Bowl is helping to conserve forests in California and capture methane from livestock manure in Michigan.
Super Bowl By The Numbers
72,000. That’s the number of fans that will be attending the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas for the upcoming Super Bowl LVIII, which pits the San Francisco 49ers against the Kansas City Chiefs.
US$215 million. That’s the estimated spend on food and beverages, hotels, not to mention Super Bowl merchandise, this year – with the event expected to generate a gross economic impact of US$1.1 billion for the Las Vegas economy.
1,000. That’s the number private jets Clark County expects to fly in to one of four airports for the Super Bowl, likely setting a record.
11 million. That’s the number of kilowatt-hours of energy that is consumed by watching the Super Bowl, according to General Electric.
US$7 million Less football game and more pop culture phenomenon, the Super Bowl is famed for its commercials – and the cost of a 30-second ad in 2024 is US$7 million. That’s US$230,000 per second and the most expensive advertising slot in the world.
35,000 It is estimated that major sports leagues, such as the NFL to the NBA, generate around 35,000 tonnes of CO2 annually – from waste to travel to the events by fans.