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David Simmons Article Archive
Written by David Simmons   
Friday, 22 April 2011 13:42

MLB Green

With today marking Earth Day, it seemed like no better time than to talk to those in sports that are involved in green thinking businesses. With that, Mark Andrew of GreenMark Sports and Jack Cassel of Players For The Planet offer a view of efforts around Major League Baseball.

Mark Andrew, GreenMark Sports

In 2001, Mark Andrew founded GreenMark Sports based in Minneapolis, MN. GreenMark is “the leading environmental marketing and green sponsorship agency in sports. We live to connect enlightened brands with forward-thinking sports properties to deliver big results, fresh experiences and deep relationships”.  GreenMark Sports has recently worked with Live Nation, New Meadowlands Stadium, Fenway Park, Target Field, Candlestick Park, Lincoln Financial Field, Rose Garden Arena, 3M, and Pentair. GreenMark Sports looks to partner environmentally conscious companies with teams and stadiums. Their landmark deal with Pentair and the Twins appears to be only the beginning for GreenMark Sports. Recently, Andrew stated “The sports industry has tremendous social and business influence. One year after the Minnesota Twins/Pentair sustainable water partnership was announced, Pentair has continued to enjoy global growth, Target Field is an operational leader in Major League Baseball, and Twins fans are better stewards of a leading environmental issue. We are proud of this partnership and continue to expand the boundaries of the sponsorship playing field through sustainability.” Mark was nice enough to take a few moments out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions as we celebrate Earth Day today.

Given your background in politics, where did they idea for GreenMark come from?

Environmental initiatives and green buildings have been the hallmark of my career in both politics and the private sector. Back in 2001, I saw an opportunity for sports and entertainment venues—iconic community assets—to drive sustainability for both B2B and B2B audiences. But it’s taken a few years for corporate partners to see the value.

What is GreenMark biggest obstacle in your sales pitch?

Both properties and brands are often interested in our services but the biggest obstacle is often that prospects think operational efficiency is what we deliver when, in fact, we deliver deeper engagement through create fresh, high-touch, public experiences to drive customer loyalty, market growth and brand distinction in sustainability.

What "black swan" event needs to happen so that all 120 major sports team are taking advantage of your services?

I don’t believe a black swan event is necessary for teams to see value in sustainability. Many teams are doing tremendous work on their own. Meanwhile, in consistent fashion, GreenMark is showing that marketing partnerships focused on business growth through environmental stewardship can yield tremendous dividends for properties and corporate partners alike.


Jack Cassel, Players for the Planet

Jack Cassel, former MLB player and brother of Chiefs QB Matt Cassel, now serves as a financial advisor in San Francisco, CA. He founded Players For The Planet along with Chris Dickerson in 2007. The mission of Players for the Planet includes supporting one-on-one and group training and education with players, coaches, parents, team managers and owners and front office personnel.  While many of the programs undertaken by Players for the Planet will be on-field, a significant portion of the efforts supported by the organization will be structured for classroom settings where focused learning about the future potential of smart environmental activities can be evaluated and discussed by today’s generation and future leaders. Players For The Planet has partnered with PNC and the Cincinnati Reds for an E-Waste Drive in Cincinnati this year in celebration of Earth Day. Jack found the time between trading stocks and caring for his children to answer a few questions as we celebrate Earth Day today.

Where did the idea for Players For The Planet come from?

The genius of Players for the Planet was when Chris and I got together at the 2007 Super Bowl in Arizona. We shared a growing concern about the shape our planet is in now and how we as professional athletes could be leverage our position in society to spread awareness and education to players and sports fans alike.

Why did you and Chris pick to focus on the environment?

Growing up in Southern California, the environment was something that we learned about at a young age in school. We both still recall having the blue recycling bins in our respective classrooms and our teachers making sure that we were aware of its significance and purpose. So it was something that we were always aware of.

As we got to playing baseball throughout the minors and into the major leagues, we particularly considered the excessive use of water bottles in professional sports, and at that point we began to discuss various opportunities to best address this concern of ours and what channels to utilize to best reach the masses of players and sports fans everywhere. Now, we certainly understood the importance of staying hydrated throughout the season, especially during the summer months while traveling around the country via bus or plane. We were guilty ourselves of crushing through bottles of water everyday, but then made the conscience adjustment to start using reusable water bottles. We did not believe there was a way to immediately change the way of the baseball culture over night, but we were determined to at least provide a solution. We figured that if ball players were going to continue to hydrate and drink water/sports drinks out of bottles, then we need either an alternative to the plastic bottles themselves or an alternative place for those bottles to be properly disposed of.

How many athletes are attached to the charity? Which notable players are a part of PFTP?

There are several players that have elected to join the organization to show their support for the cause. Some of our notables are Ryan Braun (MIL), Jay Bruce (CIN), Mike Aviles (KCR), Jon Garland (LAD), Matt Cassel (KCC) to name a few. We have been blessed by the support of our peers in the game as well as the front offices of some teams, in particular the Cincinnati Reds.

How is Players For The Planet celebrating Earth Day this year?

This year, Players for the Planet is putting together three Ewaste events this year. The first will be in Cincinnati on April 29 and 30th. You can go to the website for more information (www.playersfortheplanet.org) Additionally, Chris will be donning a green bat donated by Max Bats for his at bats on Earth Day.

What small steps can teams & leagues take to reduce the environmental impact?

A first step that every club can do right away is to have recycling receptacles in both home and visitors clubhouses and dugouts. Again, we understand the imperative aspect of staying hydrated throughout the games, so by the clubs providing that type of solution, they can help at least start the process of curbing the excessive amount of plastic waste. Off that point, Players for the Planet would like to applaud the efforts of Major League Baseball and their continued work with the teams and their respective stadiums to provide baseball fans with numerous recycling outlets around the concourse.

What plans does PFTP have in the future in regard to expanding their imprint?

The future of Players for the Planet seems to be glowing bright right now. With the Ewaste events this season, we have tripled our efforts from 2010 as well as encouraged corporate sponsors to come aboard for each event. We have been blessed by the assistance of Steve Skelly, our man on the ground for the ewaste events and David Simmons, who continues to collaborate with us adding his ideas and research. Also, a portion of this year’s proceeds will be reallocated back into environmentally driven organizations in each of the respective cities that host the events. Along side our agenda for 2011 and beyond, we want to continue to support the efforts of our peers that are trying to make a difference.

RELATED EARTH DAY CONTENT:

Earth Day NFL Green Edition: Interview with Tim Sexson


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David SimmonsDavid Simmons is a graduate of the University of Central Florida who worked in the front office of the Los Angeles Dodgers over 4 seasons and has a decade of ticketing experience.. He serves as CFO for Players For The Planet and currently resides in Baltimore. You can follow David on Twitter @davidesimmons

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