The GSB Interview: Aileen McManamon, Bringing Minor League Baseball To The Intersection of Green & Sports

While several major league sports teams have made significant investments at the intersection of Green & Sports, the conventional wisdom is that “Going Green” costs too much green.  Aileen McManamon, Senior Partner at Vancouver and Seattle-based 5T Sports, doesn’t buy it. 5T Sports is a pioneer in making the case that going green makes strong business sense for smaller sports entities–i.e. Minor League Baseball and Junior Hockey–as well as the major leagues.  GSB spoke with McManamon about how the conventional wisdom is all wet.

GreenSportsBlog:  How did you come to start 5T Sports?

Aileen McManamon:  My dream while growing up in the Cleveland area was to work for the Indians.  Baseball’s always been my first love.  After getting my MBA in International Business at the University of South Carolina, I went to work for Fiat in marketing in Germany–working with dealers on experiential marketing, among other things. Sports played a key role–we sponsored cycling; motor sports, of course; and hockey. Eventually I came back to the States and, after working in Business Strategy in the technology sector, then moved to Vancouver with my husband.  Working as a consultant, I landed an assignment with the Vancouver minor league baseball club, becoming COO.  While running a baseball team was incredible and we did a great job building the fan base, I had a different vision than ownership and we parted ways.  5T Sports grew out of that experience and fuses my sports marketing and business strategy background.  An early client was the Province of British Columbia, who hired us to manage events at the 2006 Torino Olympic Winter Games that promoted the BC lifestyle, as well as jobs in the technology and clean tech sectors in the province in the run-up to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Aileen McManamon

Aileen McManamon, Senior Partner at Vancouver, BC-based 5T Sports

GSB:  How does sustainability come into play at 5T Sports?

AM:  Well, green is in my DNA–and living in Vancouver, nature is basically in everyone’s backyard.  You can’t help but appreciate it.  And with the Green Sports Alliance being based in the Pacific Northwest (Portland), we’re at the epicenter of Green and Sports.  And, working in the baseball business, I noticed that some big league clubs were greening in  significant ways–on-site solar, LEED construction, recycling–but the minor leagues were not.  Lack of band-width is a big reason why–most minor league clubs have a lack of staff and resources to tackle greening projects.  But, if you could show a minor league team that going green would end up saving them money, that would get their attention.

GSB:  How does 5T Sports help green minor league teams?

AM:  Well, we are bringing our  3-tier greening approach to minor league clubs right now.  The first tier is an in-depth Sustainability Audit.  It’s a 2 day assessment, a deep dive.  We walk through the ballpark and look at a every aspect of a club’s operations from a sustainability point of view.  Lights, water use, on-site energy generation and more.  Next, we come back to the club with a report that suggests what can be done a) immediately, at no/low cost, b) in the medium term, with an investment in the $25,000-$50,000 range, and c) in the long term, with a multi-year investment.  The third tier is project management–we work with the club to determine which greening elements to pursue.  5T Sports will implement all aspects of the greening while instructing team staff on how to manage the greening program after our term ends.  The thing is, no matter which level of investment a club makes, they will realize a positive ROI.  And even if the investment is small, even relatively modest savings can be significant to a minor league club.

GSB:  Where do things stand now?

AM:  Well, we’re working with a minor league club in the midwest.  We’ve completed the first step–the Sustainability Audit–and now we’re waiting to see what level of greening the club wants to explore.  That decision should be finalized after the Baseball Winter Meetings next week.

GSB:  We will be sure to circle back soon to see the next steps!

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