Two upcoming University of Kentucky and Indiana University basketball games will have a new, highly visible sponsor: the Sierra Club.
It’s a first for the environmental organization, which usually focuses on grassroots organizing around the country. But lately their Beyond Coal campaign has taken off, and received a $50 million donation from New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Now, the group is spending more than $34,000 to sponsor two basketball games, in hopes it will help get its message out.
Sierra Club spokeswoman Kim Teplitzky says focusing the sponsorships on UK and Indiana made sense for the organization.
“Well they’re both schools that run and operate their own coal plants right on campus,” she said. “And for the past two years, students on both campuses have been running campaigns to try to get the universities to switch off of coal to clean energy solutions.”
The Kentucky Coal Association has sponsored UK games in the past, but Teplitzky says as far as she knows this is the first time an environmental organization has done so. She says the sponsorship will hopefully broaden the Sierra Club’s reach and show the organization’s support for the schools.
“Our goal is really that the students see that the Sierra Club is really excited about supporting these sports teams and these basketball teams,” she said. “So that when they run into students on campus talking to them about energy issues or clean air or clean water that they go to them and say ‘hey, you’re part of the Sierra Club and the Sierra Club was at the game and helping that game happen by sponsoring it.’”
Teplitzky says the Sierra Club might consider similar sponsorships in the future if the initial efforts are well-received.