Saving Birds NFL Style
~ Samantha Lewis
The NFL is all about hitting, ensnaring the QB and building up the number of sacks on your resume. Football is a contact sport, and most certainly would be boring if Manning, and others, simply wore a flag at their waists and nobody ever went down on the turf. However, there are environmental issues to consider when it comes to the NFL. No, we are not talking about stadiums with solar panels, or utilizing wind energy, or installing special plumbing/water systems that save their town extra costs. Those actually have happened. This time around, it is a particular stadium architectural ‘plan’ and design that has led to an issue regarding animal safety.
The NFL has been asked by one of the nation’s largest organizations that works for bird conservation to modify the new Vikings Stadium that is supposedly in the works to be built in Minnesota. ABC – the American Bird Conservancy – certainly is not against football. What they are talking about is this: the new stadium in question will feature large expanses of glass that will, for a fact, kill thousands of birds over time, and that is unacceptable.
ABC has already been turned down; with the Minnesota Vikings organization as well as the Minnesota Sports Authority saying they will not invest the extra money in order to make the adjustments. But ABC has not stopped there. They have requested a meeting with the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, to take their grievances to the top, so to speak.
In the request they sent to the Commissioner, they stated they were extremely concerned that the Vikings Stadium in question will have such a large glass wall exterior that there will be birds – some legally protected by federal law – that will be killed because of the structure. (Minnesota is not the only one ABC wishes to address. It seems that the stadiums in Atlanta, San Diego, and L.A. are also seeing rising numbers in bird deaths because of their structures.)
The Eagles, Cardinals, Seahawks, Ravens, Falcons – you name it, the NFL most certainly has utilized these birds in their teams. They are the icons, so to speak, of internationally-known football teams that should be protecting their mascot – not setting up structures that will actually kill them because of unavoidable collisions between bird and building.
Let’s face it here. Football fans are avid, ardent, passionate people who think far more about their team, their towns, and their players than they do about birds. Of course, thousands of those thousands of fans are also wildlife protectors and wish to make sure that everything from endangered species to all creatures are kept safe, so that the next generation can enjoy them. So…there is a debate.
This new stadium set to be built in Minnesota will take two years to complete. The astronomical cost reaches nearly one billion dollars to complete. But to alter the plans just a bit and actually change the design will cost approximately 1 million, which is less than one-tenth they are already spending.
A great many people know the word ‘Audubon’ – the organization that fights for the rights of all animals, and works so that more wildlife-friendly products will be used by mankind to stop species from disappearing altogether. And it is the Minnesota Audubon that is continually working to have stadiums built with bird-friendly glass. This is a glass that has low reflectivity on the outside and a pattern of ceramic dots that would deter birds, yet would not disable the view, design, or beauty of the building. Fans will still be able to see out, but the birds will be able to see the monstrosity and veer away.
Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, found that between 365 and 988 million birds are likely killed in the United States annually because of collisions with buildings. So, really, it all comes down to this: If spending one billion already for a stadium to be built, then how tough would it be to tack on that one million to save these creatures?
Answer: Not tough at all.