‘Climate Pledge Arena’: Amazon secures naming rights to New Arena at Seattle Center

SEATTLE — Seattle-based Amazon announced Thursday that it has secured the naming rights to the new home of Seattle's NHL team and the WNBA's Seattle Storm.

Previously named Key Arena, the New Arena at Seattle Center will be known as ‘Climate Pledge Arena.’

Officials said the site is expected to be the first net-zero carbon-certified arena in the world, developed in partnership with Amazon, Oak View Group and NHL Seattle.

>> PHOTOS: Seattle Arena will be named Climate Pledge Arena

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

Tod Leiweke, CEO of NHL Seattle, told KIRO 7, “To be able to name this building after a global cause and one that is so authentic to Seattle is really just extraordinary.”

Leiweke did not disclose what Amazon paid for the naming rights.

Leiweke did say arena developers spent an extra eight figures to make the building greener, pushing the total cost to about a billion dollars, all privately funded.

“To be a carbon zero facility means you have to change the way you do things. You’ve got to eliminate fossil fuels, you’ve got to change the way you operate the building, you’ve got to think about waste in a whole different way,” Leiweke said.

Leiweke says there will be no gas in the building. The Zamboni will be electric, so will the kitchen stoves. Ice in the rink will come from collected rainwater.

“When the World’s Fair opened in 1962, this building stood for the future and for hope, and it does again,” Leiweke said.

Companies usually buy naming rights to put their name on the sign.

Jeffrey Shulman, a marketing professor at the University of Washington, said Amazon is so big it doesn’t really need traditional brand awareness.

“Perhaps they’re deciding they can get more positive association with the brand by championing a cause that people here in Washington care deeply about rather than putting their name on a building,” Shulman said.

Shulman says the choice also increases the pressure on Amazon to deliver on the climate pledge.

“It’s a risk proposition because brand values aren’t just stated, they have to be lived,” Shulman said.

Many Amazon employees have been critical of the company’s environmental effort, saying it does not go far enough, and Amazon should stop doing business with fossil fuel companies.

The group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice pointed to a continued rise in emissions at the company and called the arena naming an “obvious PR stunt.” In a statement, the group said it was “indicative of the company’s entire approach to climate change: pledges and symbols without real action.”

Here are some more details from Amazon on the arena:

  • First arena in the world targeting net Zero Carbon certification by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing sustainable building practices.
  • The arena will have all-electric operations and be powered by 100% renewable electricity, both from on-site solar panels and off-site renewable energy. Events at the arena will be made fully net-zero carbon through investments in forestry projects with organizations such as The Nature Conservancy that will sequester any remaining carbon emissions from arena operations.
  • Carbon emissions and sustainability performance of the arena and all events will be measured and publicly disclosed.
  • All operations and events at the arena will be 'zero waste' with durable and compostable containers. A minimum of 95% of all arena waste will be diverted from landfills on a weight basis.
  • The arena will use reclaimed rainwater in the ice system to create the greenest ice in the NHL.
  • Original 44-million-pound roof from the arena will be reused in construction to reduce the embodied carbon of the building significantly.
  • At least 75% of the arena’s food program will be sourced locally on a seasonal basis to support regional farmers and producers. All viable unused food from events will be donated to local community food programs.
  • NHL Seattle and WNBA Storm tickets will double as free public transit passes to promote the use of public transportation for attendees, including on the refurbished Seattle Monorail.
  • Amazon and OVG will form the Climate Pledge Arena Sustainability Advisory Council in partnership with community groups to support local environmental initiatives.

“There is no question that the state of our planet is a critical issue for all of us,” said Tim Leiweke, CEO, Oak View Group. “We have a responsibility to future generations to try to leave them with a better world. We love that Amazon is using its naming rights for a cause we care deeply about—this partnership is a visionary step for the facilities business and sport and music industries. Our goal is to be the most progressive, responsible, and sustainable venue in the world. It is not just about one arena — it’s a platform for us to step up and heal our planet.”

The 18,000 -seat arena is expected to host 200 events each year.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates

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