In this age of pitched battles over the impact of certain needed political policies, it’s interesting to see how various entities in society react. While it’s government that sets the legislative groundwork and regulations to move a policy forward, it’s really how others get on board (or don’t) that have a lot to say about whether the policy itself well be successful or not.
So for me, it’s always interesting to see examples of different entities deciding to step into this policy space with an action or policy of their own, even if it might seem odds or counterintuitive for them to do. Let’s face it, our general views about which sectors can be leaders on various policy ideas is pretty limited and that’s to our detriment in my eyes. So when a certain story came across the social media feed yesterday about one entity deciding to take a step out on a certain policy issue with a policy of theirs, I couldn’t help but stand up and take notice:
This interesting news is two-fold. Firstly, the new NHL team in Seattle will offer subsidized public transit for all fans attending hockey games at their newly renovated arena. That’s a good initiative but not a new one, as we have seen other sports teams take the step of doing similar things. Here in Ottawa, when the RedBlacks CFL team came into being at the newly renovated TD Place stadium, they struck a deal with the city of Ottawa to give people free transit to the game with their game ticket. That was in part to help deal with parking constraints in the area, but it’s been something that’s popular, which is why we’ve seen more and more pro sports teams move in that direction. According to their press release, Seattle becomes only the third professional sports organization in the U.S. to offer a free public transit benefit for fans, after the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors. So to see the Seattle NHL team do this is pretty cool and with the times.
But it’s the second part of this story that really is something different, something I can’t remember seeing before (and I welcome people to point out others if I’m missing something here): the franchise is entering into a partnership with the Seattle Monorail which includes making capital improvements. Yes folks, MONORAIL!!!!
Sorry, I couldn’t resist the reference. But back to the story, the part of this that is new to my eye is the idea that this pro sports team isn’t just going to encourage people to use more transit to go to their games, they’re actually entering a full on partnership here that will include putting actual money into actual capital improvements to that part of their transit system itself. The idea seems to be to get greater use out of a system that some see as (admitted in the press release) as a tourist attraction and making it a more integrated part of their transit system.
The release goes onto point out that NHL Seattle will make a private capital investment of up to $6 million US at the Westlake Station to achieve upgrades including improved platforms, modernized electronic fare gates and additional elevator access. In a day and time when pro sports teams are expecting the public purse to build them billion-dollar stadiums, here we have a pro sports team shelling money out of their own pocket to pay for public infrastructure instead. It may not be a huge amount in the grand scheme of things, but it is a notable difference.
In this case here, we’re seeing a pro sports team taking a step to not only meet the needs of their soon-to-be fans and their businesses success, they are also putting their own money forward to pay for infrastructure that will help the whole city have a more effective and efficient transit system. It will get more people on that monorail and out of their cars, reducing GHG emissions, traffic congestion and making their city a more livable place. Those are all pluses in my mind and really should be no brainers. Yet still this story is the exception rather than the rule today. But maybe more importantly it’s examples like these that can show the business community about how they can make their own impact in the policy discussions around climate change and doing better, with their own choices and business decisions. I’m not suggesting everyone will or can rush in this direction tomorrow, but for me it’s notable because it’s an example of what is possible when the will is there to get it done. We’ll see if others take inspiration from that will and what it might mean for this teams’ bottom line when they finally take the ice.