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Fans "Make the Call"


There is a great deal of responsibility expected from Ravens fans on gamedays. Look no further than the recycling bins recently spread in and around the stadium.

M&T Bank Stadium has started a new recycling program, called "You Make the Call," for the 2008 season. Marked containers have been distributed outside the gates and at Ravenswalk, as well as throughout the suite level. Signage showcasing these new bins provide fans with a choice of either recycling material or simply throwing it out.

This initiative is part of the Ravens' recently awarded NFL Grant, which goes toward increasing the fan-based experience on gamedays.

Although the stadium has already been recycling for the past few years, Roy Sommerhof, vice president of stadium operations, and Jeff Provenzano of the Maryland Stadium Authority hope to expand it.

"Two seasons ago, we actually did some research," Sommerhof said regarding the challenges of asking over 70,000 people not to throw out their glass or plastic. The largest obstacle was separating different materials. Luckily, the stadium found a new waste management program that supports the city's 'single source' program, whereby all recyclable material could be put in one container and streamlined at a plant later.

The bins are also spread outside, as fans often bring one last beverage with them as they walk to the stadium for the game.

"We're hoping that the fans will participate and utilize the containers," Sommerhof said.

Prior to this initiative, post-game crews would only recycle cardboard. Now, they can collect glass, plastic and other materials. There is also new signage throughout the suite level in hopes of encouraging suite owners to use the recycling containers.

Last season the stadium successfully recycled 41 tons of material from the suite levels. Sommerhof and Provenzano believe there is the potential for gathering one ton of recyclable material during each home game from the suite level alone and hope to double last year's total for this season.

The stadium is well on its way to achieving that goal. At the first two home games this year, over 20 tons of recyclable material was collected. There are also "things you wouldn't imagine" like bread racks and plastic soda containers recycled as well, according to Sommerhof.

These steps only include what is visible to the public, though. In the offseason, old computer parts, metal, batteries and other unused materials are recycled. To take it a step further, grease and oil from the concession stands is saved and shipped to a company that recycles it into soap, or in some cases diesel fuel.

That still leaves more than 30 tons of waste each home game. Per Sommerhof, all other contaminated material is shipped to the Resco Plant just a few blocks away from the stadium. It is burned and converted to steam, which is then used to provide hot water to office buildings in downtown Baltimore.

The first building on the line to receive that heated water? M&T Bank Stadium.

Sommerhof wants to step outside the box, and more specifically into the seating bowl at some point.

"Eventually we'll move into the concourse. It's the right thing to do."

Fans should do the right thing too, and make the right call by utilizing these bins on gameday, proving this recycling initiative is worth the effort.

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