The adoption and diffusion of pro-environmental stadium design

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Article written by Timothy B. Kellisona from the University of Florida, USA, and Sungil Hongb from the Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China.

Research question: Owners and architects face mounting pressure to incorporate environmentally sustainable features in new arenas, ballparks, and stadiums. In this study, we apply Rogers’ diffusion-of-innovations framework to highlight the key influencers and factors contributing to the decision to adopt pro-environmental initiatives.

Research method: We conducted interviews with 13 senior architects whose portfolios collectively contained over 25 eco-friendly sport facilities spanning Europe, Australia, Africa, and North America. The facilities discussed were used for a variety of leagues and events, including FIFA World Cup, the Olympic and Paralympic Games, college football and basketball, Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Football League (NFL). The data were transcribed and analyzed following the open, axial, and selective coding sequence.

Results and findings: The results of the study indicated that owners and quasi-owners reviewing green facility proposals considered the input of several groups, including the design firms, the media, political leaders, environmental activists, and local citizens. According to interviewees, the primary incentives for owners and quasi-owners to adopt sustainable designs were economic savings over the life of the facility, perception-management opportunities, and demonstration of their innovativeness. Finally, facility designers predicted the diffusion of pro-environmental sport facilities would continue in the immediate future.

Implications: Innovation diffusion is driven by early adopters, who prioritize an innovation’s relative advantage and compatibility over its complexity, lack of trialability, and lack of observability. Additionally, pro-environmental facilities are being used by organizations to demonstrate both environmental stewardship and their cultures of innovation. Future research should explore both the decision-making process and barriers to sustainable design adoption in further depth.”

The article was published on the European Sport Management Quarterly, January 8, 2015.


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