The 12th annual 2023 Green Sports Alliance Summit, “Intention, Action, Impact,” brought more than 700 attendees to Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, where Delaware North has provided hospitality services since the venue opened in 2021. The Green Sports Alliance Summit is the largest and most influential gathering for the sports community to unite around sustainability.
The event included leaders, players and students in sports and entertainment from all 50 states and 15 countries to share best practices and innovation in “green” operations, while engaging supply chain stakeholders and fans.
Not only did the Delaware North Sportservice team at Climate Pledge Arena serve attendees from the Green Sports Alliance, but team members from across the organization participated in the two-day event.
Debbie Friedel, Delaware North’s director of sustainability, and Molly De Mers, Delaware North’s executive chef at Climate Pledge Arena, served on a key panel the first day of the summit. The session, “Ingredients for Successful Partnerships,” was moderated by Rob Johnson, senior vice president of transportation and sustainability for the Seattle Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena.
Friedel set the stage discussing planning for sustainability at Climate Pledge Arena – prior to the venue opening and ever since. Friedel said sustainability impact areas at the venue focus on three major categories: the supply chain (local, animal welfare, single use plastic packaging), waste (reduction, reuse, recycling, food donations, composting), energy (efficiency) and emissions (electrification).
“Working closely with Chef Molly and Steve Dominguez, Delaware North’s general manager at Climate Pledge Arena, ideas were brought to life, with the team taking on the heavy lifting to implement many initiatives,” Friedel said. “The planning started well before opening and kicked into high gear after coming back from the pandemic.”
De Mers shared how she established relationships with 48 local purveyors, worked with the local distributor to track product miles, implemented a food donation program for surplus food, managed a recycling and composting program to divert waste from the landfill – all while developing menus with flavors inspired from Seattle and Washington state.
In a truly inspiring and memorable moment, De Mers brought her girlfriend’s daughter on stage and said, “This is what it’s about – right here. It’s important to remember that this isn’t a business, this isn’t a line – this is our human lives. I think about her every time I make a decision – how it’s going to impact her and her future.”
Fellow panelist Cherlyee Cruz, strategic development director for Front of the House (FOH Inc.), discussed her role to understand and deliver upon the business needs at Climate Pledge Arena. FOH designs and manufactures a unique collection of products such as dinnerware and tableware with a focus on sustainability and corporate social responsibility.
The Delaware North Sportservice team at Allianz Field in Minneapolis was also recognized during the summit as contributing to the Minnesota United Football Club’s (MNUFC) “Play to Zero” award from Green Sports Alliance – which speaks to the venue’s efforts to divert trash from landfills. In 2022, the venue had a waste diversion rate of 54.9%. So far in 2023, the waste diversion rate is up to 70.5%.
Photo Caption: Debbie Friedel (far left), Delaware North’s director of sustainability, and Molly De Mers (second from right), Delaware North’s executive chef at Climate Pledge Arena, last month served as panelists at the Green Sports Alliance Summit in Seattle. Pictured with them during the “Ingredients for Successful Partnerships” panel are Cherylee Cruz (second from left), strategic development director for Front of the House, and moderator Rob Johnson (far right), senior vice president of transportation and sustainability for the Seattle Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena.