By Ken Reed

Kevin B. Blackstone had a terrific piece in The Washington Post recently about creative ways stadiums and arenas — usually funded entirely, or in large part, by taxpayer dollars — have been used for positive social impact activities. Even privately built stadiums and arenas are typically the beneficiaries of publicly-funded roads, sewers and transportation hubs around the sites and should be available for public purposes. These stadiums and arenas — especially NFL stadiums — sit unused for numerous days every year.

Blackstone writes about how World Central Kitchen Chef José Andrés uses stadiums as huge food prep and distribution centers in this country, as well as around the world, to feed thousands in need.

Andrés calls these venues “gigantic kitchens” and “fields of hope.”

NBA and WNBA players made headlines before the November election last year for convincing team owners to open their arenas and practice facilities as polling places. That effort made voting more accessible for thousands of Americans.

Others, beyond Andrés, have found creative ways to use stadiums, which given their public funding are actually part of a city’s civic infrastructure, like roads and bridges.

“The public has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on these facilities,” said Michael Friedman, an instructor in Maryland’s kinesiology department and expert on stadiums and public policy. “These are the largest spaces that we as a society build for communal events.”

In addition to giant polling places and kitchens, stadiums and arenas (most notably the luxury suites) can be used as shelters during emergencies.

“They’re very centric, have big spaces and are easy to organize,” said Andrés.

“It’s amazing to see such an important role these stadiums can play. If it’s public money … then these venues should be able to be used as some sort of humanitarian response. We need to be thinking that way going forward.”

For sure.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


Comments are closed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.