Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 22 No. 23
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Water conservation is nothing new for California stadiums

Don Muret
Sports facilities in California are taking greater steps to conserve water after Gov. Jerry Brown’s order for statewide water cutbacks.

The first-time order, issued April 1, focuses primarily on water use by individual households and businesses spanning large campuses such as golf courses. The governor’s goal is to reduce overall water use by 25 percent by the end of 2015, according to local reports.

For most arenas and stadiums, water conservation has been a focus for as long as California’s current drought has been around, stretching as far back as 2008. In large part, it’s been a joint effort between teams and their communities to save water and go greener overall. In 2007, for example, one year before the drought officially took hold, Staples Center installed 178 waterless urinals, which have resulted in a savings of 7 million gallons of water a year, arena President Lee Zeidman said.

A water-harvesting system is being installed at O.co Coliseum for future rainy days.
Photo by: AEG FACILITIES
The state’s two newest big league facilities, the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium and the San Jose Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium, were both developed with water reclamation systems. Both stadiums have drought-tolerant plants as part of their landscaping, including the NRG Solar Terrace, a 27,000-square-foot green roof at the 49ers’ home. Beyond those features, the Earthquakes plan to cut back on watering about an acre of grass at the 7UP Epicenter Fan Zone, a two-acre space behind the scoreboard in the stadium’s north end, team President Dave Kaval said.

The 49ers run the big leagues’ first LEED Gold stadium for new construction, where 85 percent of water is recycled back for irrigating the field and flushing toilets. “We’re proud of that number,” said Jim Mercurio, the team’s vice president of stadium operations.

About four months ago, well before Brown laid down the historic restrictions, the 49ers started looking at how they could further reduce water consumption and decided to buy a new pressure-washing system for deep cleaning the seating bowl. The improved equipment operates similar to when a homeowner attaches a sprayer to a garden hose to apply a higher level of water pressure. At Levi’s Stadium, pressure washing should consume 50 percent less water than the old procedure Mercurio said.

“It’s part of our sustainability plan after learning the building better,” he said. “Everything we do is in conjunction with [stadium owner] the city of Santa Clara, which has one of the more aggressive water reclamation systems. The city’s at the forefront of this effort, which makes it easier for us.”

Elsewhere in the Bay Area, AEG Facilities, the firm that runs O.co Coliseum and Oracle Arena, already uses pressure washers to clean the outdoor stadium’s seating bowl. After getting approval from the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority, owner of the two venues, AEG plans to buy $100,000 in new equipment to provide even better results using less water, said Chris Wright, a company vice president and general manager of the two venues. It should be in hand by July and also can be used to clean the arena’s exterior walls, Wright said.

In addition, AEG is installing water-harvesting systems at both venues: essentially, large tanks used to capture rain and ground water. The collected water is then transported to locations where it can be used for cleaning and plumbing, he said.

The coliseum itself, built along Damon Slough, a narrow waterway that feeds into San Francisco Bay, sits about 22 feet below sea level, which is one reason why the building has had flooding issues. By having so much access to ground water, the goal is to pump less water back into the bay and use more for building operations, Wright said.

The arena’s water-harvesting system will be operational by May. The stadium’s system is in design and will be ready by October. The total investment for both systems runs between $300,000 and $400,000, he said.

The extra measures for water conservation fall in line with AEG’s effort to earn LEED certification in the category of existing buildings at Oracle Arena, the NBA’s oldest facility, which opened in November 1966.

“We feel very confident we can get to LEED by the fall,” Wright said. “It also fits our strategy with AEG One Earth, our company’s initiative to operate in the greenest possible way.”

In Southern California, as part of a short-term solution, Honda Center plans to cut in half the number of times it cleans the arena’s exterior and washes windows, said Tim Ryan, the Anaheim Ducks’ executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Des Hague is now on the board of Ping HD, which has menu boards at MLB ballparks.
Photo by: PING HD
“We power wash the building once a week, and our goal is to keep it pristine,” Ryan said. “We’re looking at doing that once a month if the conditions dictate it. Our next step is to remove non-drought-resistant landscaping and a small amount of natural grass if the need arises.”

> BITS AND PIECES: There is a common thread among the multiple stadium proposals tied to the potential return of the NFL to Los Angeles. For the past five months, CSL International has been executing market research and fan surveys, starting in Los Angeles and extending to Oakland, St. Louis and San Diego, league spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed. CSL, headed by Bill Rhoda, president of global planning, is part of Legends, a company co-owned by the Dallas Cowboys. … Stadium designer Paul Griesemer has joined HNTB as an associate vice president and senior project manager. Griesemer’s 29 years of experience include 17 years at AECOM, where he worked on renovations to Lambeau Field, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and FedEx Field. At his new firm, Griesemer is HNTB’s project manager for the new Milwaukee Bucks arena project. … Des Hague, Centerplate’s former president and CEO, has been named to the board of directors of Denver-based Ping HD, a maker of digital menu boards. This year, Ping HD has supplied new menu boards for AT&T Park, Busch Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Miller Park and U.S. Cellular Field, said Greg Lewis, the firm’s partner and managing director. Ping HD’s products use Samsung’s Smart Sign technology.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.