There’s nothing better than rooting for the Phillies. For many that’s true when the Fightins’ are winning. For others, including myself, I’ll be cheering whether they’re world champions as they are right now or when they hit a slump. The 2009 season at Citizens Bank Park (CBP) is already underway in my mind. On this damp, dreary, late March day, I ventured to the ballpark to experience the club’s offerings off the field for the new (and champion) season.
This will be the Phillies first full season for the Red Goes Green initiative. The Phillies rolled out the first public efforts to reduce the team and stadium’s carbon footprint last May. This season, fans can more actively take part in the efforts. Around the ballpark concourses are 35 three-stream collectors with an 80-gallon capacity. Global Spectrum General Manager Bram Reynolds says once fans understood the rectangular containers were NOT ad panels for Waste Management, containers that ask for bottles, cans, cardboard and other litter started filling up quickly during games. Staffers work to empty the collectors for more recycling “donations.” Reynolds says when you factor in the post-game cleanup by staff plus what was deposited during a game, depending on attendance from 1 1/2 to 2 tons of cans, bottles and plastic are recycled. Three tons of cardboard is collected and compacted from the average game-day crowd. Factor in the other litter, an average game generates 12 tons of trash. Fans could also find themselves being followed around by “Phil the Can,” and his pal George Colli or one of the other Phanstormers. The Phillies red pinstriped waste can reminds fans to deposit their waste and not leave it behind.
The Phillies are also stepping up a volunteer idea that began last season: giving groups of between 30 and 100 a chance to help the Red Goes Green effort while catching some of the game at the same time. Now, you don’t get a seat at the game. You do get free parking and a meal ticket. Your group fans out, (children under 16 have to be chaperoned by an adult) and you walk up and down the section steps and around the concourses during the game through the 7th inning collecting recyclable plastic and aluminum. Your volunteer group is recognized during the pre-game events. There’s more information on the Phillies site http://www.phillies.com/ and you can ask for information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
CBP food and merchandise concessionaire Aramark is taking a few more steps to offer more recyclable paper and plastic goods. Director of Concessions at the ballpark, David Lippman says all food containers are bio-degradable or compostable including every plastic cup dispensed at the park. Fry-oil is recycled. He stresses there is no Styrofoam used at the park. Lippman said his wife gave him grief about Styrofoam, so he is likely happy at home and at work.
Those condiment packets that seemed to be stuck to the ground everywhere at the ballpark are long gone. They disappeared last season in place of the condiment dispensers. While the onion dispenser tends to get clogged up and some people are perfect slobs when it comes to tending to the messes they make, the dispensers are a much better alternative than those foil packets.
In the CBP shops, there are 100% organic items for sale including the World Champion Phillies shopping bag and a “onesie” for the tiniest of Phillies fans. Phils spokeswoman Leigh Tobin is a big fan of the organic items, though her baby is probably too big now for the “onesie.”
The Phillies continue to work behind the scenes with their partners in the recycling effort. Everything from office paper to printer cartridges, light ballasts and batteries are deposited in the offices for recycling. “Green” cleaning products are used throughout the park. The club has also committed to purchasing 100% renewable energy this year.
Beyond Red Goes Green efforts, Aramark has tweaked the food offerings with a few more vegetarian and vegan items. Campo’s is now the chicken and steak purveyor at the park and also serving up a tasty vegan “steak” with spicy peppers. Yes, it DID taste like chicken, but extremely flavorful, served in a fresh roll. Planet Hoagie is again serving its vegetable hoagie and is offering chicken and tuna salad hoagies on a healthy wheat roll. The new Alley Grill is featuring selections from Harry the K’s restaurant as well as a southwestern veggie burger. Bull’s BBQ, with former Phillie great Greg Luzinski hosting, is also serving now a “kid’s” platter with a chicken slider, gooey mac and cheese and apple sauce.
While food prices at the ballpark can be a budget-buster in these tight economic times, the Phils allow you to bring in food. While you might want to “brown-bag-it” for your game-day main course, buying and sharing a snack as your treat will save you a bundle. Or, you could enjoy a slice of Seasons pizza from Neighborhood Pizza and take in peanuts you bought at the grocery store.
While the Phillies capitalize on the 2008 World Series victory, it remains to be seen whether the recession will affect the ballpark. The place may be “greener” with the recycling efforts, but it remains to be seen whether the million-plus fans at the park spend any more “green” while they cheer the Fightin Phils.