How Final Four organizers in Phoenix are staying sustainable during massive sports event

Apr 2, 2024, 5:00 PM | Updated: Apr 4, 2024, 10:01 am

Final Four organizers in Phoenix sustainability strategies...

Event organizers want to ensure leftover lumber, podiums, banners, fence wrap and other materials are reused to help the community. (NCAA Men's Final Four photos)

(NCAA Men's Final Four photos)

PHOENIX — Final Four organizers in Phoenix plan to prioritize sustainability during this weekend’s NCAA basketball championship.

In fact, there are various strategies already in motion, according to Jennie Patel, the head of social responsibility and volunteers for the 2024 Men’s Final Four Host Committee.

“One of our big initiatives is sustainability and really making sure that we are mitigating the environmental impact of hosting these major events,” Patel told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Monday. “We know it can take a toll.”

After all, colossal sporting events like the NCAA tournaments bring an influx of sports tourism. While that’s great for the economy, it also raises concerns about Phoenix’s ability to grapple with the spike in traffic. More people means more food, trash and potential crime.

Phoenix law enforcement officials assured the public they would increase security around Valley events during a Monday conference.

Patel spoke on ways event leaders are keeping the Phoenix area safe, clean and efficient.

“We have four focus areas for our sustainability,” Patel said.

How are Final Four organizers in Phoenix staying sustainable?

One of those focus areas is diverting as much waste away from landfills as possible, Patel said.

To get this done, the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee is working closely with the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, where the Final Four will take place. They’re also in close contact with the Phoenix Public Works Department.

On top of that, the committee also has a food recovery program.

“We all know how much extra food gets made for these large events, right? So we’re working with three local nonprofits: United Food Bank, St. Mary’s Food Bank and Waste Not,” Patel said.

Partnering with these groups for various Final Four events ensures leftover food goes to Valley residents in need, she added.

Lumber also a key concern ahead of Final Four

Material recovery is another priority for Final Four organizers in Phoenix, Patel said.

“You see miles and miles of fence wrap and scrim,” Patel said. Scrim is a lightweight material often used for banners in sporting events.

“There’s podiums left over, there’s court left over, there’s a lot of lumber left over,” she said.

The Phoenix Local Organizing Committee works with 40 local nonprofits to ensure these leftover materials are reused, Patel added.

“Can you use these leftover materials again instead of throwing it out? Can you use it for your next event so your money can be spent on your mission instead of buying a new podium?” Patel said. “So really making sure that we are diverting as much but also helping the community and our local nonprofits here in Arizona.”

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How Final Four organizers in Phoenix are staying sustainable during massive sports event