You all know about the Saint Paul Aints. No, wait, I mean Saint Paul Saints. This is a local baseball team here in the Twin Cities. They are building a new stadium (much needed) right in the middle of Saint Paul to replace their old stadium out by the railroad tracks.
What you may not know is that the Saints Stadium is going to be one of the greener sports stadiums built. Other people building stadiums should take note. From MPR News:
St. Paul Saints stadium builders aim to make it a ‘green’ field
… When the $62 million stadium opens in May, the home of the city’s minor league baseball team will take a major step forward as an environmentally friendly sports facility.
A canopy of photovoltaic solar panels next to the baseball field will generate 103 kilowatts of power for Minnesota’s newest sports complex, a 7,000-seat facility owned by the city of St. Paul.
“We think it’s going to be the third largest solar array at a sports facility in the U.S,” project manager Paul Johnson said.
That’s only about a tenth of the power needed to run the lights and meet the energy needs for the rest of the stadium. But it will be a high-profile alternative to conventional electric power. The baseball scoreboard is expected to tout the solar power generated along with the score. Its panels also will shade a group dining area.
Other features will include a storm water filtration system that will take drainage from the nearby Metro Transit maintenance facility roof and use it to irrigate the turf at CHS Field. Rain water also will be diverted to flush 10 percent of the toilets in the restrooms.
Making the stadium environmentally friendly came with a cost. The solar project added an additional $600,000 to the project, and the storm water system added an estimated $450,000. But grants are covering the extra cost.
Still, the price tag on the solar project has drawn skepticism even from some environmentalists.
Eric Jensen, senior energy associate for the Izaak Walton League of the Midwest, is encouraged that solar energy will receive such a high-profile installation and that more people will see a practical use for it. But he said the funding from Xcel Energy would have gone further on other projects.
“This is the highest dollar per watt,” Jensen said. “It’s the most expensive dollar per watt project.”
But Gerken, the project architect, thinks even seasonal use of environmentally-friendly facilities can inspire the public to think differently. He cites light rail service at Target Field.
“Many people’s first experience with Metro Transit and the light rail was ‘hey, let’s go to a Twins Game,'” he said. “And now they’re used to it, they know about it. … It’s an option to go to the airport; it’s an option to go to the Mall of America.”
Ann Hunt, environmental policy director for the city of St. Paul, said the innovative stadium features aren’t just demonstration projects but part of a larger effort across the city’s public sector. Another example of the city’s environmental focus, she said, is the solar hot water system for the RiverCentre convention center. Hunt said it’s one of the biggest in the Midwest.
“This installation heats hot water to help heat the RiverCentre complex and the Xcel Energy complex and provide domestic hot water for that facility,” she said.