BY Art Thiel 04:48PM 06/25/2020

Thiel: It’s Climate Pledge Arena (by Amazon)

A cause. Not a corporation. The remade sports barn and concert hall at Seattle Center, home to a World’s Fair, will be a billboard for a world crisis. Climate Pledge Arena. Brought to you by Amazon. CEO Jeff Bezos announced …

Climate Pledge Arena is the new name for what was the Coliseum, then KeyArena. /

A cause. Not a corporation.

The remade sports barn and concert hall at Seattle Center, home to a World’s Fair, will be a billboard for a world crisis.

Climate Pledge Arena. Brought to you by Amazon.

CEO Jeff Bezos announced via Instagram Thursday that his global colossus has purchased naming rights for the new building — now scheduled to open in September 2021, just in time for the debut season of Seattle’s NHL expansion franchise — but saw little point to advertising his shop when higher ground was available.

“We’ve secured naming rights to the historic arena previously known as KeyArena,” Bezos, a Seattle resident, wrote. “Instead of naming it after Amazon, we’re calling it Climate Pledge Arena as a regular reminder of the importance of fighting climate change. We look forward to working together with Oak View Group, a new Climate Pledge signatory, and NHL Seattle to inspire global climate action.”

No terms for the 10-year deal were announced, but the naming rights deal is a big milestone for Oak View Group and its $930 million investment in remaking the former KeyArena. With its world headquarters about a mile away, Amazon was seen as a likely prospect, but had yet to invest its brand in any sports venue.

OVG wanted the building to be a leader in green technology, and now says it will have the first zero-carbon arena in the world. The team website said the building will be powered exclusively by renewable energy, including both on-site and off-site solar rather than the widespread standard use of natural gas in arenas and stadiums.

The arena will run solely on electric for daily operations, eliminating all fossil fuels  and installing the first all-electric dehumidification system in the NHL.

“Our goal is to make sure every visit to this arena will be enjoyable and memorable, and sustainability is a large part of that,” Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group and leader of the arena project, told the club site. “It is not just about one arena, it’s the platform. We challenge music, facilities, concert tours and sports. It is our time to step up to face the challenge of our generation.

“We must take steps to build arenas and stadiums that front-and-center align with our zero-carbon mission statement.”

Tod Leiweke, who leads the team-building side, told the Seattle Times that Bezos made the call.

‘We were talking about Amazon and talked about community,” he  said. “And they came back and said, ‘Look, the No. 1 community cause for us and what we believe in most is climate, and Jeff’s commitment to the climate pledge.’ And we came away inspired.”

Included in the commitment will be:

  • The first arena to ban single-use plastics and commit to functional zero waste. Fans will see only compost and recycling bins, no trash cans.
  • The first arena to fully offset the carbon emissions of all events and related transportation by fans, sports teams and entertainers, achieving carbon-neutral operations and use.
  • The lowest embodied carbon arena in the world; saving the landmark roof and the new arena’s subterranean footprint significantly reduces façade materials needed and the associated greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The greenest ice in the world using rainwater, refrigerants with zero greenhouse gas emissions and electric Zambonis.
  • The largest coordinated effort of fan engagement with climate issues of any NHL team.

Jason F. McLennan, a Seattle-area architect and founder of the Living Building Challenge, is consulting with OVG and NHL Seattle on the arena project.

“Having worked on some of the greenest projects in the world, this project stands above everything in its ability to reach a broader audience and address climate change and other global environmental issues,” he told the team site. “I knew the world would force more and more sports and entertainment venues to eliminate all carbon emissions. It was just a matter of when and where.

“There are so many things I am proud about with this project. One of the proudest is this arena is really about climate and The Climate Pledge, not being named after a big corporation. It is named after a vision to move to a responsible place for the planet.”

In response to criticism from Amazon’s employees and outsiders of the company’s environmental practices, Bezos, the world’s second-wealthiest person behind another Seattle guy, Bill Gates, in February committed $10 billion of his personal wealth to create the Bezos Earth Fund.

“This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world,” he wrote in an Instagram post. “I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet.”

The Amazon Employees for Climate Justice saluted Bezos for the move at the time but said it wasn’t enough. In a statement, they wrote, “We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away.”

The privately funded arena for the NHL’s 32nd team apparently is a next step  for Bezos’s conscience.

Opened in 1962 for the Century 21 Exposition as the Washington State Pavilion, the building was renamed the Coliseum in 1964. Tenants included hockey and basketball along with many major concert tours, including two by the Beatles.

The Sonics brought major pro sports to Seattle in 1967, but when they were sold to Oklahoma City prairie pirates in 2008, the Key’s only remaining sports tenants were the WNBA Storm and Seattle University men’s basketball.

Oak View Group, a Los Angeles arena development company run by Tim Leiweke, won a bid from the city of Seattle in June 2017 with $564 million to re-do the building with private funds while preserving its iconic, low-profile roof.

The project’s degree of difficulty, as well as costs in a hot construction market, caused the price to soar beyond $800 million. The original general contractor, Skanska Hunt, asked out in 2018 and was succeeded by Mortensen, which accepted a project maximum cost guarantee of about $930 million.

The onset of the coronavirus in March caused a four-day shutdown as workplace-safety rules were implemented to prevent the spread. Along with new delays in the supply chain, the arena’s anticipated opening of June 2021 was pushed back three months, just ahead of the October opening for NHL training camps.

No word yet on whether the deal with Amazon will help the project with expenses by including free shipping.


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  • James

    CPA ?
    The CPA ?
    Bezos’ CPA ?

    Can’t have an ironic name for it when waves are breaking on that iconic roof in 2080.

    • art thiel

      2080? If you read this story, you’d say 2030.

      • James

        Better make your reservations now for the Siberian tropical beach Trump Resorts. They are cheering for climate change in Moscow.

        • art thiel

          First reservations being taken Nov. 4.

          • James

            Trump better hope he has bona fide reservations in Russia because no other country on the planet will accept him when he flees justice/prison here. Lock him up.

          • Husky73

            Trump will never be locked up.

          • 1coolguy

            God, please, give it a rest. When Sleepy Do-Nothing Joe gets in I’m sure you will be very happy with the US getting rolled by China, Russia, Iran and NK again. Those 4 despots will stage a week long celebration on the Riviera!
            Joe can’t even process a thought, let alone 2 sentences that make any sense.

  • John

    In a way, I am glad that Amazon doesn’t have naming rights for the team.

    • art thiel

      On the other hand, Bezos could pay off the trademark squatters, and the team would have a name by now.

      • John

        I can imagine a few Bezos inspired names, based on the area name. The Glaciers, The Icebergs, The Recyclers, and just to tick a certain person off, The Seattle Socialists (sticking with the SS theme of most Seattle teams).

  • Nice! Since the Storm is the only team that’s been playing there recently and features one of the greatest to ever play the game, I vote for the nickname Bird House. Has a nice ring to it (three, actually).

    • art thiel

      Full credit goes to you. Trade this in for two season tickets.

  • Kirkland

    I don’t see how they can not have trash cans. Some things are simply not recyclable and have to be thrown away, like candy bar wrappers or used tissues (sorry). Also, sports fans tend to be messy, and they’ll find a way to generate non-recyclable garbage.

    • art thiel

      There’s no trash cans left. MLB bought ’em all.

      • Chris Alexander

        If I’d been drinking something when I read that comment, it would have ended up all over my keyboard. CLASSIC line. Just part of why we all love you.

        • art thiel

          I’m enough of a perv to enjoy messing with readers’ keyboards. Thanks.

          • Drew Griffin

            Seriously, well done on that.

  • 2nd place is 1st loser

    Given the current political inaction in Seattle, it’s a miracle it’s not called….. The CHOP arena.

    • art thiel

      Chop House works.

      • Kirkland

        Brings back bad memories of Frank Chopp and his part of the Sonics saga.

  • LarryLurex70

    I’m still scratching my head wondering exactly what is/was “historic” about the former KeyArena.

    • art thiel

      World’s Fair. Seattle’s big-time breakthrough. Lots of craziness happened there.

      Then again, much of same could be said of the late Dog House Restaurant nearby.

      • LarryLurex70

        I keep reading the words “historic” and “iconic” thrown around by the local press and/or OVG regarding the former KeyArena. That’s really nothing more than local yokel hyperbole. It’s not as if that barn has ever been on-par with actual former iconic and historic sites in Chicago, Toronto, Boston, Montreal, Philly – you get the idea – every sports fan knew by name. No one outside OVG or SCC is accusing the former Coliseum of being “historic” or “iconic”. Not with a straight face.

        It’s just both comical and desperate at the same time. Much like the new name.

        • Husky73

          The Beatles played there twice.

          • LarryLurex70

            So, the Tacoma Dome is iconic because Def Leppard headlined it twice on the same tour?
            The Beatles were iconic. Not the venue they headlined.

          • Husky73

            Def Lepard…right up there with Limp Bizkit, Creed, Hole, Dokken, Stryper, Great White, Warrant, Poison and White Snake. The Beatles….right up there with no one.

        • art thiel

          Fair points. I hope I’ve held the line.

    • Kirkland

      Architecture critics have said that the roof is a masterpiece — I’m not an architecture buff, I can’t give an argument for or against — and that sort of sentiment led to its declaration as an official historic landmark by the city. Thus the roof couldn’t be touched by anyone who wanted to remake the Key. The only way they could totally remake the site including the roof is, God forbid, after a massive earthquake.

      • art thiel

        Architects and designers do love the roof. Hasn’t leaked in years. And it’s unlikely to make good firewood.

        • Husky73

          The roof won’t be certified until Spencer Heywood inspects it.

  • Guy K. Browne

    I see a furniture polish joint, cease and desist lawsuit in the very near future.

    • art thiel

      It took a minute . . . but I got there.

  • Matt

    One industry publication had the deal at $300-400M. Or maybe that’s $300M now, $400M if an NBA team gets added down the road. Either way, that’s a big deal for an upper middle market venue over ten years.

    We’re probably nearing the point where the NHL Seattle crew hopes the ’21 season gets pushed back in the event sports calendars haven’t readjusted to this year’s chaos. Might as well hope the same for the ’21 WNBA season.

    This is good news if Art is writing about NHL Seattle and the arena again…

    • art thiel

      Given how the nation, thanks in large part to our failed federal leadership, has caved to the virus, sports-season disruptions may be long-lasting.

      Regarding hockey coverage, it’s a work in progress.

      • Husky73

        “They brought their f***in’ toys with them!”

    • Hockeypuck

      There will never be an NBA team in this arena, David Stern is dead, but in the minds of the NBA Key Arena (in any form) is a stench…a foul taste a lifetime’s supply of toothpaste won’t be able to erase. The NBA would rather have a séance with Chris Hansen’s doppelganger than inhabit this building as the “third” tenant (behind hockey and concerts),,,,,

      • Husky73

        Never is a long time. I’m guessing that before 2120 pro basketball will return to Seattle.

        • Hockeypuck

          Sounds like a little over/under action is in order :)

          • Husky73

            Yeah, but I’ll be dead and won’t be able to collect.

      • art thiel

        “a foul taste a lifetime’s supply of toothpaste won’t be able to erase. . . .” Permission to steal that line sometime, sir.

        • Hockeypuck

          Art – Done. I’m confident you can re-package it much more stylistically than I.

  • Husky73

    I vote for the CPA.

  • Chuck Taylor

    It should be nicknamed The Greenhouse.

    • art thiel

      We have a new leader in the clubhouse.

    • Kirkland

      As global warming was first called in the ’80s the “Greenhouse Effect”, that’s the last thing you’d want to name an ice arena.

      • Chuck Taylor

        That’s part of the joke. Besides, they can still play if it’s slushy. It would just be a slower game.

  • coug73

    I name thee, House of Chop Sticks.

  • Mark Stratton

    I think it should be called ‘The Only Good Thing the Feckless Jenny Durkan Has Done for Seattle Arena’. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

    • art thiel

      I think in 2017 she said yes after her demands were met.

  • 1coolguy

    Doesn’t matter what they call it, it’s a horrible location as has been agreed to by every sane person. So the arena to not be on Hansons’ site at the confluence of I-90, I-5 and 99 is simple idiocy.
    The city chose this as a way to save the Key and I understand that, but frankly, as a Sonic season ticket holder, I know first hand what a NIGHTMARE this site is. No parking, traffic backups for miles, no entertainment options (other than Dick’s), etc. There is even LESS parking because the parking lots have been converted to apartments.
    I hope someday, however remote, Hanson builds his arena and the local billionaires bring back an NBA team. That arena will work and host all concerts, etc because people from all over the area, not just Queen Anne and downtown, will gladly travel there.