Back in February, Amazon owner Jeff Bezos – the richest man in the world – made a US$10 billion commitment to fight climate change. Now he’s putting the climate fight in the marquee lights, after Amazon acquired the naming rights for a new sports stadium in Seattle and announced it will be called “Climate Pledge Arena.”
“Instead of naming it after Amazon, we’re calling it Climate Pledge Arena as a regular reminder of the importance of fighting climate change,” Bezos said. The name reflects a 2019 initiative, launched by Amazon and Global Optimism, which calls on its signatories to become net-zero businesses by 2040.
Among those taking the pledge is Oak View Group, a Los Angeles-based firm that develops and invests in sports and entertainment venues. The company is a partner in the new arena, which will become the home of Seattle’s National Hockey League team and the Seattle Storm of the WNBA.
“There is no question that the state of our planet is a critical issue for all of us,” said Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group. “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.”
To that end, Climate Pledge Arena is expected to be the first certified net-zero arena in the world, as determined by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). To achieve the carbon-free goal, it will be powered entirely by renewable-source electricity with on-site solar panels and off-site providers. Any carbon emissions generated by arena operations beyond that will be offset through forestry credit programs at The Nature Conservancy and similar organizations, with all data made available to the public.
The arena also commits to diverting at least 95 percent of its waste away from landfills, using compostable food containers and other techniques. At least 75 percent of the food at Climate Pledge Arena will be locally sourced in an effort to support local producers, and excess food will be donated to Seattle food programs whenever possible.
Amazon says the venue’s rainwater reclamation systems will guarantee that Seattle’s hockey team will play on “the greenest ice in the NHL.” Climate Pledge Arena also will reclaim the original roof from an existing arena, so that some 20 million kilograms in material can be recycled and thereby reduce the carbon impacts.
Bezos and his partners have negotiated a few other arena-related plans in Seattle, where Amazon is based but often has a contentious relationship with the wider community, as was the case with a proposed employee tax in 2018. For example, the tickets for the NHL and WNBA games will serve as free transit passes in the progressive United States city, in order to promote the use of public transportation when fans comes to the arena.
The arena, which will seat 18,100 people, is expected to have 200 such events each year, between the sports teams, live music and entertainment, and local community partnerships.
“Climate Pledge Arena will set a new sustainability standard for sports and event spaces around the world,” says Jason F. McLennan, the founder of ILFI. “The group’s innovative approach and sustainability mindset – embodied by naming the arena after The Climate Pledge – will provide a green, world-class event space at Seattle’s City Center for the region to enjoy for years to come.”