In 2020, the Ball Corporation entered into what has been described as a first-of-its-kind partnership with Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE), the owner of multiple sports facilities and franchises. One principal aspect of this arrangement involved Ball receiving the naming rights for the venue — home to the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, and NLL’s Colorado Mammoth.
Another key element of the partnership was the Colorado-based company becoming KSE’s “Official and Exclusive Sustainability Partner” with a central aim of reducing environmental waste at the newly named Ball Arena and other KSE venues.
“Working together, we believe this partnership is transformative and will continue to help redefine the way arenas and stadiums operate globally,” Matt Hutchings, KSE executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in a press release.
The relationship between Ball and KSE began a year earlier when Denver’s venue, then known as the Pepsi Center, became Colorado’s first major league pro sports arena to replace, in a large-scale way, plastic cups at concession stands with Ball’s more sustainability-friendly aluminum cups. The overall objective was to have 100% aluminum packaging and achieve a closed-loop recycling process.
The initial target was to replace 1 million plastic cups by 2022; however, Ball Arena exceeded that mark by eliminating more than 1.1 million cups in 2022.
The effort included recycling more than 180,000 pounds of aluminum. The venue has predicted more success in 2023, with a 4% increase in aluminum recycling, reaching around 190,000 pounds.
Photo Courtesy Ball Arena
KSE facilitated this achievement by making it easier for fans to recycle aluminum cups. Ball Arena boasts nearly 250 recycling bins and has a group known as Team Aluminum that roams the arena equipped with “mobile recycling backpacks,” allowing fans to deposit their recyclables.
Additionally, 10 Oscar AI sort bins were placed around the venue in 2023 to further assist people in correctly sorting their trash. These hi-tech waste receptacles feature a 32-inch screen and an artificial intelligence (AI)-operated camera, showing fans which bin is suitable for their trash.
The arena also instituted an incentive program that rewards fans who recycle with the chance to win gift cards.
KSE has a history of involving the community in its environmental projects. In 2008, the company started a “Play Clean” initiative to help make the Pepsi Center the first major entertainment facility in Colorado to offer the single-stream recycling of bottles, plastic cups, and clean paper products. This effort annually diverted approximately 20,000 pounds of material from landfills.
The arena designated preferred parking spaces for hybrid cars to reduce carbon emissions. It also turned the closest street to the venue into a “no idling zone” so people in parked vehicles wouldn’t leave their engines running.
Photo Courtesy Ball
Similarly, the Ball Corporation hasn’t restricted its environmental efforts to improving recycling and decreasing waste at Ball Arena. As part of its partnership, Ball’s “infinitely recyclable” aluminum cups are stocked at other prominent KSE sports facilities, like London’s Emirates Stadium and Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium.
“From the beginning of our partnership, Ball and KSE have focused on leveraging the influence and reach of sports and entertainment to drive meaningful change in sustainability,” Dan Fisher, president and CEO of the Ball Corporation, said in a 2022 press release.
This influence, indeed, has spread widely over recent years. Ball’s sustainable aluminum cups are utilized at more than 50 major league sports venues across North America, including Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium and numerous NCAA Division I football stadiums. The containers are also used at many important sporting events, like the Indianapolis 500, the Super Bowl, multiple PGA Championship tournaments, and Formula One races.