There was a time when a father and son went to a ballgame, ate hot dogs and drank sodas, and left their trash wallowing in a sticky, gooey mess under their seats. But times have changed, and it's not just players' salaries.
Major League Baseball teams have stepped up efforts to increase the cleanliness of their stadiums to give families a more enjoyable experience when they come out to cheer their favorite team. A couple teams even have recycling collection programs to get the most out of their trash.
The Texas Rangers may be the next to start such a program. Officials are considering setting up recycling bins throughout the stadium to collect some of the 500,000 PET single-serve soda and water bottles sold at The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, each year.
"We have a relationship with the city and want to do our part to keep everything clean and happy," said Grady Raskin, an account executive for the Texas Rangers.
The team is in the early stages of developing the program. It would like to kick off the program April 22, Earth Day, Raskin said. But there are challenges. Realistically, it might take a season or two to implement the program, he said. The toughest part is finding room for all the collection bins.
"If this does not happen, it's not because of a lack of participation. It's just the logistics. It [may not] work out because of a lack of space," he said.
The Seattle Mariners baseball team has about 250 plastic container recycling bins throughout its ballpark, Safeco Field, which it started playing in last season, team spokeswoman Rebecca Hale said. The Mariners started the program last year to recover some of the estimated three pounds of waste each fan generates per game, she said. With a seating capacity of 47,000, the tonnage starts to add up.
"It's a challenge, it's truly a challenge," Hale said. "People are not used to doing it at sporting events. It's hard getting people educated in a new way."
Start-up costs can discourage some, but the team will save a substantial amount of money over the long haul, she said.
The National Association of PET Container Resources is providing technical assistance to the Rangers' organization, said Tim Warren, central regional director of NAPCOR. The team approached NAPCOR for help in material processing and public education, Warren said.
"They're certainly doing their homework in terms of thinking through everything that needs to be done to make the program successful," he said.