Old dogs might not be able to learn new tricks, but the Portland Sea Dogs certainly can. The Boston Red Sox’s Double-A affiliate entered the 2022 season determined to find new ways to operate more sustainably. The team added its first-ever sustainability partner in April, the technology company Arcadia, to bolster its environmental initiatives.
“Sustainability isn’t new to us, but this new partnership helps us to put sustainability at the forefront,” explained Geoff Iacuessa, Portland Sea Dogs president and general manager. “The time to take environmental action is now, and a formal strategy will be important for helping us prioritize feasible solutions to take action.”
A central mission for this partnership is to develop sustainability-promoting programs that engage fans at Portland’s Hadlock Field and in the community. Arcadia is excited to “help Sea Dogs fans hit it out of the park with sustainable actions to make a lasting impact,” stated Kate Henningsen, company co-founder and chief operating officer.
Leading off this project is a series of “Sustainable Sundays” focusing on staging environmentally-minded activities relating to special occasions like Earth Day.
Individuals and organizations will also participate with the Sea Dogs in this program, such as the Bike Coalition of Maine taking part in an event during National Bike Month.
The Sea Dogs, as Iacuessa stated, are not strangers to sustainability. In 2007, the club brought abroad the cutting-edge, Maine-born recycling firm CLYNK to build up and run Hadlock Field’s recycling operations. CLYNK added approximately 20 recycling containers around the stadium to improve the collection effort. Additionally, 100% of the money collected through cans and bottles recycling was donated to the Strike Out Cancer in Kids (SOCK) Program.
“The Sea Dogs are thrilled to be teaming up with CLYNK to help our organization become more eco-friendly,” stated the Sea Dogs’ Todd Jamison when the partnership was announced. “The fact that CLYNK is willing to go the extra mile and partner with the Strikeout Cancer in Kids program shows their commitment to the Sea Dogs and the community.”
The ball club has a long history with SOCK. Launched in 1995, the Sea Dogs’ second season, the organization raises funds for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program at Maine Medical Center, now ranked as one of the top programs of its kind in America.
The team raises money through fan pledges based on the number of strikeouts thrown by Sea Dog pitches. SOCK has raised more than $5 million since it began. It is so ingrained in the Portland community that, when the league canceled the 2020 season, the team held a month-long virtual SOCK campaign.
The Sea Dogs also have had a long-running campaign raising awareness of skin cancer, one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers among all ages. Over the years, the team has staged several game-day events where they distributed free sunscreen samples as well as sunscreen dispensers around Hadlock Field.
“Skin cancer is preventable just by using a few simple tools,” explained Kip DeSerres of the American Cancer Society. “The challenge for us is to remind as many people as often as possible of that fact and the Sea Dogs have given us a marvelous opportunity to work towards this goal.”
When the franchise was founded, one of the stated goals was to have the Sea Dogs be “a strong, active, contributing member of the community.” The team runs several ongoing programs that honor students, organizations, and community members with tickets to games at Hadlock Field and host free youth baseball clinics at the ballpark. The yearly Slugger Open golf tournament serves as a fundraiser for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. The Sea Dogs’ Mother’s Day 5K raises money for Maine breast cancer patients and research. The ballclub’s outreach programs have included a contest where Sea Dogs staffers and ground crew take an athletic field in bad shape and make it beautiful.
And speaking of beautiful fields, let us shine the light on Hadlock Field. This ballpark was named one of the top 10 best minor league stadiums in the U.S., and it may stand as the only one with a retractable 16-foot lighthouse beyond its centerfield fence that rises amidst fireworks after a Sea Dog hits a home run or the team wins a game.