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U.S. Pro Sports Leagues Make Solar Energy a Priority

The nation's most popular and influential sports leagues have teamed up to take on climate change by adopting solar energy at their venues and promoting awareness of the benefits of solar power.

The heads of five U.S. professional sports leagues -- Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer -- distributed a Solar Electric Energy Guide for Stadiums and Arenas to all 140 teams in the five leagues combined. The guide was recently published by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF).

The guide goes into step-by-step detail on how to go about installing solar energy systems at sporting venues. It covers everything from solar cost estimates and financing options, to how to find and purchase panels. Also included is a discssion on the rate of return and payback for solar power systems in the U.S. Not to be overlooked, the guide also offers information on how solar energy systems help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

NRDC Senior Scientist Allen Hershkowitz sees the backing of solar energy by professional sports leagues as evidence of a broader trend in the U.S. toward a mainstream renewable energy future:

"The distribution of solar power development guides by all professional sports leagues reflects a real cultural shift in our thinking about energy that is taking place throughout the business community and the nation at large."

Even before the guide was distributed, some teams had already partnered with solar companies or installed solar energy systems at their venues. In April of this year, for example, the NHL's San Jose Sharks made Canadian Solar Inc. the official sponsor of their Stanley Cup playoff bid. In early August, the NFL's New England Patriots installed a 525-kilowatt (kW) solar energy system at Patriot Place in Massachusetts, the team's hall of fame.

And the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, home to three teams within the five leagues, has a 345.6-kW solar energy system on its roof that, over the next 25 years, is expected to eliminate over 10,000 tons of greenhouse gases.

Other teams that have integrated solar energy at their home stadiums include MLB's San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Boston RedSox and Washington Nationals, the NBA's Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets, and the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

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