KIRO 7 gives you a look inside Climate Pledge Arena

SEATTLE — The victory parade will be in Tampa Bay, but in some ways you could say Seattle was the winner of the Super Bowl — or at least the halftime show.

The Weeknd’s elaborately staged, cinematic halftime performance is part of the post-game buzz. And on Monday morning, the spotlight on the R&B/pop singer jumped from Raymond James Stadium to Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center.

Monday morning, tickets went on sale for the first announced music event at the new arena. Even though forklifts, hard hats, and caution signs are the only audience you can find there now, the Weeknd’s new show introduces CPA as the arena of the future. The pandemic forced the Weeknd to reschedule all the dates for his After Hours World Tour last year, and now that he’s set to go for 2022, he also added a date in Seattle. The arena — and the Seattle market — are too good to pass up now.

“The Weeknd travels with an amazing production,” explained Nick Vaerewyck, VP of Programming at CPA. “They’re going to travel with over 20 trucks.”

He took KIRO 7 for a look at an otherwise drab, unremarkable tunnel, until he explained what makes it so significant: iIt’s wide enough to accommodate two rigs across. In other words, that means there can be two-way traffic, allowing much more movement of the kind of equipment that a huge production like the Weeknd requires. The rest of the arena is also a significant upgrade from the old, dated KeyArena. Top-of-the-line acoustics, including what insiders know as “lapendary panels”, will dramatically improve the sound. The building’s sturdier skeleton will allow for more elaborate staging. A much larger “back of house” area will accomodate the kinds of luxurious dressing rooms and extra space that premium acts want.

And the arena is not just for music. The Seattle Kraken will be its key tenant, and the NHL is happy to point to the arena as the newest home in the league. The upgrades in the CPA, especially the wide tunnel, will allow one event to tear down at the same time as the next event is setting up. It can go from being an NHL rink for one game, to a concert stage for Lady Gaga, to the home of four-time WNBA champs Seattle Storm — and perhaps, for the return of the Sonics? “There’s nothing additional we would need to do,” says Vaerewyck. Seattle just needs to get a team first.

In the meantime, CPA is getting ready to start filling its calendar. It’s on schedule to open in the fall of 2021. With a concert date of March 4, 2022, the Weeknd is the first act to confirm a performance there, but it won’t be the last event there. There are still plenty of plans and announcements to come.

One thing Vaerewyck is willing to say is that this arena can be the next Madison Square Garden or The Staples Center. “Seattle is a market just like those markets. It’s a major market, and we feel like this building will be just as busy as the venues in New York or Los Angeles any day.” He says he expects it to be one of the premiere entertainment venues in the world. “We’re bringing acts like The Weeknd, that have just played the Super Bowl, that are at the biggest moment of their careers, and we’re bringing them to this building.”