Complementing Super Bowl LVII are charitable efforts that stretch from Flagstaff to Phoenix and to Tucson.
The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee has partnered with the NFL to create the Super Bowl Legacy Grant program. Jay Parry, the president and CEO of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, says the program is about giving back.
“It is in the DNA of the NFL to make sure we are giving back to the local communities who are hosting the Super Bowl,” she says. “We worked with the communities to give back almost $2 million to nonprofits across the state of Arizona.”
Parry says the grants were given to nonprofits and projects that would make a lasting impact on Arizona. To do this, she says they had to work closely with Arizona’s communities.
“We went to our local stakeholders in Arizona and said, ‘What’s important for Arizona right now?’” Parry says. “There were four legacy programs that we identified that were very important. The first one was education, the second one was health and wellness, the third one was social justice, and the fourth one was sustainability.”
While all four programs were important to the Legacy Grant program, Parry says they had a keen focus on the environment.
“Having a real eye on sustainability was identified as something that was very important for Arizona,” she says. “We as a host committee decided to take on the goal of being the greenest Super Bowl yet.”
To do this, they took on myriad projects across Arizona. They worked with NFL Green, the NFL’s environmental program, and planted more than 500 low-water usage and drought-resistant trees along with native plants and flowers in communities that had a low percentage of tree canopy.
They also undertook the largest NFL Green clean-up at the Lower Salt River with more than 500 volunteers. Susan Groh, the NFL’s associate director of the environmental program, says they removed “two huge dumpsters worth of trash” from the river as well as worked with Force Blue to remove invasive species.
“We worked with a group of special ops retired military veterans to dive in the Lower Salt River and remove invasive apple snails that are destroying the ecosystem there,” she says.
“That was an event with a lot of impact and tremendous community involvement, I think. The Salt River is an important waterway. It contributes to drinking water, power and everything else.”
Groh says they also worked to replace and restore native habitats and pollinators. Specifically, they worked with foundations such as the Butterfly Wonderland Foundation to bring back bees and butterflies in various regions across Arizona.
“There is a big push to bring the monarch butterflies back to this area and to increase that pollinator habitat,” Groh says. “The Butterfly Wonderland Foundation will release 90 painted lady butterflies in addition to planting pollinator plants that are going to attract butterflies back into the area.”
Beyond the immediate impact of these events, Groh says she believes these events will inspire Arizona communities to do more projects like these in the future.
“We feel like once the volunteers are out there and see that they can make a difference themselves, they are more likely to do this again,” she says.
While their work across Arizona’s communities was sizable, their biggest undertaking is to make the Super Bowl a zero-waste event. A zero-waste event is an event that diverts 90% or more of waste from a landfill. Lorizelda Stoeller, a Phoenix deputy public works director, says they are using organic materials to achieve their goal.
“We are going to have a really heavy focus on compostable material, food waste material and organic material,” Stoeller says. “All of the events hosted in Downtown Phoenix, wherever there are concessions occurring, will have a presence of a compost or food waste bin. We are also going to be focusing on the back of the house — where all the food preparation happens.”
To make the goal possible, Stoeller says the public needs to place their organic waste in the compost bins during Super Bowl events. She said they also need a lot of volunteers. Those who want to volunteer can visit https://bit.ly/PHXZeroWasteAmbassador.
“It’s more manpower so we are going to have to rely on a lot of volunteers,” Stoeller says. “These volunteers, we call them zero-waste ambassadors, are going to be walking around inspecting the bins and making sure people are doing the right thing. Being the eyes and ears on the ground and educating the public.”