Just when you thought Seattle couldn’t get any more Seattle, the city’s flagship indoor sports venue will be named Climate Pledge Arena.
Amazon announced Thursday that it bought naming rights to the facility, which is undergoing a $930 million remodel to host a professional hockey team starting next year.
The name doesn’t roll off the tongue. It’s not as snappy as the previous name, KeyArena, or as majestic as the original moniker, Seattle Center Coliseum.
But Amazon, NHL Seattle and arena operator Oak View Group deserve kudos for their bold and provocative choice.
Companies pay hundreds of millions for naming rights to amplify their brand, which then gets mentioned in thousands of news stories and game broadcasts every year.
Climate Pledge Arena will be mentioned in all those stories and broadcasts, reminding millions of people of the importance of climate action.
Of course there’s self interest, with a name promoting climate actions by Amazon and Oak View.
Amazon last year announced “The Climate Pledge,” committing itself to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and challenging other companies to make the same pledge.
While there are critics skeptical of Amazon’s commitment, and ongoing scrutiny of its progress is needed, the arena name is an audacious way for the company to publicly hold itself accountable.
Amazon’s pledge will be displayed on the arena roof for everyone to see, keeping its promise in the spotlight.
Quirky names are also signatures of Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos.
There’s a political angle, too. Seattle politicians continually blame Amazon for their failure to tackle challenges like growth and homelessness. Amazon’s ownership of its biggest challenge will now be spelled out on the skyline.
That sign’s green glow will also evoke memories for Seattle Sonics fans, and remind them to keep pushing for an NBA team.
The name also calls out the arena’s green credentials, of which the region should be proud.
Climate Pledge Arena is raising the bar for sports facilities to reduce their environmental impacts. It will be the first certified net-zero carbon arena, powered by 100% renewable electricity with zero-waste operations. Even reclaimed rainwater will be used in the ice system.
Seattle could have ended up with its centerpiece arena named for a faceless, out-of-town corporation. Instead, the city’s biggest employer is making a large and welcome contribution to funding the publicly owned facility.
If the name Climate Pledge Arena advances climate action and highlights Seattle’s leadership, we’re all for it.