What could have become a giant dump of Super Bowl leftovers from U.S. Bank Stadium, the Convention Center and Nicollet Mall is instead being reused and repurposed by more than 20 local charities.
The Salvation Army has collected more than 1 million square feet of mesh fencing, banners and carpeting used before and during the Super Bowl and is distributing the materials to other local charities.
Then there’s the miscellaneous — the Kitten Bowl set, pallets of hand warmers, food and beverages, and supplies such as desks, pens, pencils and Post-it notes for more than 100 offices in the temporary headquarters.
“No one wants to take those supplies back with them, so we donate them to charities to use in classrooms,” said Jack Groh, director of the NFL Environmental Program, which facilitates the material recovery project. “It’s more than 2,000 pounds of supplies.”
More than 16 months ago, the National Football League’s Environmental Program began building a network of charities to use Super Bowl leftovers instead of sending them to the landfill.
“We’re the first pro sports league to do this,” Groh said. ”The initiative started 25 years ago and now we do it at major sports events like the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl and the draft.”
The Twin Cities Salvation Army took the lead by acting as a distribution hub for nearly all the items. It used most of its fleet of 18 donation trucks to collect the materials from four major sites and transported it to its warehouse and store at 900 N. 4th St. in Minneapolis. From there, the other 21 charities could pick up what was useful for them.
“It’s an enormous amount of stuff,” said Tom Canfield, administrator of operations for Twin Cities Salvation Army.
Most of the items will be reused by the charities for their staff and mission. Some are for sale at Habitat for Humanity ReStores in Minneapolis and New Brighton. Habitat received walls, lumber and building materials from the Hallmark Kitten Bowl, purple carpet rolls and furniture from a hospitality room at a local hotel. More items are expected to be in ReStores next week.
Some Super Bowl-branded items will be donated to charities to repurpose as shower curtains, backpacks, handbags, and flags, but a portion of the best items will be auctioned off in some Twin Cities Salvation Army stores in late March or early April. Customers can place bids in the store and the winners will be notified after about a week.
Groh said recipients of the materials must be a nonprofit and agree not to sell branded items outright, although some can be auctioned. “The nonprofit owns the piece but not the rights to the artwork,” Groh said. “They can’t copy the artwork, put it on a T-shirt and sell 500 of them.”
Leftover pallets of prepackaged food that was frozen or refrigerated was donated to charities such as Second Harvest for food shelters and soup kitchens. Bottled water and fruit juices from Pepsi, a sponsor, were also donated.
Groh said that not every community that hosts a major sporting event like the Super Bowl is as receptive to recycling as the Twin Cities.
“The Vikings are a great partner. They sent the cheerleaders and the mascots to our events,” he said. “Minnesota is one of the most fertile environments for people concerned about sustainability.”