Green Sports Alliance Recognizes Leaders in Sustainability at 2024 Awards Celebration

Green Sports Alliance Recognizes Leaders in Sustainability at 2024 Awards Celebration
June 25, 2024
Shay Strawser

Green Sports Alliance Recognizes Leaders in Sustainability at 2024 Awards Celebration

AEG’s Lee Zeidman, World Surf League Among Awardees

Media Contact: Shay Strawser | | 717.557.1986

(Los Angeles, CA) – Leaders and innovators driving sustainability in the sports and entertainment industries were recognized during a ceremony hosted by the Green Sports Alliance (GSA) at Los Angeles’ iconic Peacock Theater on June 13th. Lee Zeidman, President of Arena, Microsoft Theater and L.A. LIVE, and long-time educator, former county commissioner and founder of award-winning environmental publication “Florida Environment Magazine” Dave Newport received the highest honors as Environmental Leader and Environmental Legacy awardees, while an additional 20 individuals and organizations were celebrated for achievements in waste reduction, behavior or systems change and adoption of new technologies as Innovation Award and Play to Zero Award winners.

“As the first person hired specifically for Staples Center in 1998, I've been blessed to have been surrounded and supported by hundreds of members of our AEG team, with their dedication,

patience, and willingness to listen to my ideas” said Lee Zeidman. “Some good, some crazy, and some that one can only respond with, ‘what were you thinking about?’ Our goal was to inspire our leadership into early adoption of these practices, and we hoped that in some ways it would have an impact on improving our planet.”

Zeidman shared some of the poignant milestones across the 25+ years he and the AEG team have striven to influence the greening of the sports and entertainment industry, which included evolving the Grammy Awards, partnering with the NRDC and the Rolling Stones to promote climate action, developing food waste reduction programs, and the launching of a rooftop initiative with a former Governor:

“I'll remember the day that we were up there with Governor Schwarzenegger and it was hotter than hell and we were wearing suits and unveiling solar panels on top of an arena. It was pretty amazing.”

While Zeidman received the Leadership Award, Environmental Center Director for University of Colorado-Boulder Dave Newport delivered an emotional speech while accepting the Environmental Legacy Award, thanking the GSA and colleagues for a special tribute video for his recently-announced venture into retirement, and shared a moving email from the late Bill Walton, a close friend and colleague of Newport’s. Former GSA Board Chair and Pac-12 Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich presented the award:

“In my case, I met Dave when he walked into my office in San Francisco in 2015, and immediately sold me and our entire Pac-12 staff on creating a first- and still only-of-its-kind collegiate sports conference sustainability platform. Despite the disruption to the conference, the legacy of inspiration the Pac-12 team brought to collegiate athletes and higher education more broadly lives on. All thanks to Dave Newport’s action and vision.”

The four Innovation Award recipients were selected for demonstrating leadership and excellence in environmental and social impact in the world of sports. Alena Olsen, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, WM and World Surf League each implemented projects that not only reduced environmental impact but also encouraged fans, athletes, and community stakeholders to do the same. The Green Sports Alliance Awards Celebration also recognized 17 sports organizations as Play to Zero awardees for significant reductions in waste, water, or energy use, highlighting ongoing improvements in venue sustainability.

The Awards Celebration was hosted by Emmy and Peabody Award-winning sports journalist Sarah Spain, and included unique one-on-one conversations programmed throughout the awards presentations. Those special guest pairings included artist, activist and Plastic Pollution Coalition CEO and Co-founder Dianna Cohen speaking with Sarah Spain on the evolving legacy of the film and entertainment industry to be an example of plastic use reduction and representative of environmentally-responsible characters and storylines. Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley took to the stage with millennial environmentalist and founder of Green Jobs Board Kristy Drutman to discuss the importance of creating space for the next generation of climate leaders. 

Musical artist and United Nations Youth Leader AY Young was joined by Sean Hill, Trevan McClure, Mimi Nichole and Raine Sterne to close out the Awards Celebration with a musical performance featuring a set list focused on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) and environmental topics like clean energy that aligned with the performance being powered in partnership with Battery Tour and Overdrive Energy Solutions.

"We are proud to recognize these exceptional awardees whose pioneering efforts in sustainability are transforming sports and entertainment,” said Roger McClendon, Executive Director of the Green Sports Alliance. “From welcoming 800 leaders from across the globe to celebrate Faster, Further, Together to the elevation by AY Young's inspiring musical performance, emphasizing our alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the promotion of clean energy."

2024 Green Sports Alliance Awards Recipients [CLICK TO VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE AWARDS CELEBRATION]

2024 Environmental Leadership Award 

The Environmental Leader Award is a prestigious honor recognizing extraordinary leadership towards sustainability, environmental stewardship, and community engagement, and is given to an individual who embodies the values of the Green Sports Alliance.

Lee Zeidman | President, Arena, Peacock Theater and L.A. LIVE

2024 Environmental Legacy Award

The Environmental Legacy Award  honors individuals who have, over the course of their career, mentored, guided and directly impacted professionals throughout the sector. 

Dave Newport | Director, Environmental Center, University of Colorado-Boulder

2024 Innovation Award Recipients

The Innovation Awards recognize sports organizations and collaborators who demonstrate leadership and excellence in environmental and social impact in the world of sports. Awardees drive sustainability-related initiatives across their organizations and operations, implementing projects that are not only intended to reduce environmental impact but also encourage fans, athletes, and community stakeholders to do the same. 

  • Social and Community Impact Innovation Award | World Surf League / WSL One Ocean
  • Environmental Stewardship Innovation Award | WM / WM Phoenix Open
  • Next Generation Leader Innovation Award | Alena Olsen / Going For Green
  • Health and Wellness Innovation Award | Mercedes-Benz Stadium / Mercedes-Benz Stadium Community Garden

2024 Play to Zero Award Recipients

The Play to Zero awards recognize sports organizations that show, via Play to Zero or other tracking platforms, significant reductions or diversions in waste, water, and/or energy use at their venues. These awards highlight continuous improvements in building-level sustainability around waste, water, and energy use management.

Energy Champion for 100% reduction or offsets:

  • Allegiant Stadium
  • Petco Park and San Diego Padres

Waste Champion for 90%+ diversion from landfill: 

  • UBS Arena
  • The Ohio State University - Athletics
  • Levi’s Stadium and San Francisco 49ers
  • Mercedes-Benz Stadium
  • Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Energy Leader for 50%+ reduction or offsets:

  •  Xcel Energy Center and Minnesota Wild

Waste Leader for 50%+ diversion from landfill:

  • Q2 Stadium and Austin FC
  • Allianz Feld and Minnesota United FC
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Huntington Bank Stadium and University of Minnesota
  • Xcel Energy Center and Minnesota Wild
  • Allegiant Stadium

Energy Player for 30%+  reduction or offsets:

  • Levi’s Stadium and San Francisco 49ers
  • Gillette Stadium
  • Lumen Field

Waste Player for 30%+ diversion from landfill:

  • St. Louis City FC
  • Arena
  • Gillette Stadium
  • Levi’s Stadium and San Francisco 49ers
  • Dignity Health Sports Park

Learn more about the Green Sports Alliance Summit at