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Amazon acquires naming rights to forthcoming Seattle arena

A rendering of the forthcoming Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington (NHL Seattle)

Online retail and streaming video giant Amazon has struck a landmark deal with the Oak View Group for naming rights to the forthcoming NHL Seattle arena, but the company will not put its own moniker in the building’s name. 

Instead, Amazon will showcase the arena’s status as the industry first fully carbon neutral arena, and the venue will be known as Climate Pledge Arena.

The deal, struck between Oak View Group, Amazon, and NHL Seattle, will highlight the building’s effort to be powered entirely by renewable energy. Financial terms were not publicly disclosed, but industry sources pegged the deal at between $300m and $400m in total value, representing one of the industry’s most lucrative naming rights pacts for an indoor arena.

“It’s not just about one arena. It’s the platform,” said Tim Leiweke, Oak View Group chief executive and leader of the arena development efforts. “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.”

The $900m Climate Pledge Arena, set to open next summer, is located on the site of the former KeyArena, and will be home for the forthcoming and as-yet-unnamed National Hockey League expansion team in Seattle, as well as the Seattle Storm of the Women’s National Basketball Association.

“Instead of calling it Amazon Arena, we’re naming Climate Pledge Arena as a regular reminder of the urgent need for climate action,” Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos in an Instagram post. “It will be the first net zero carbon certified arena in the world, generate zero waste from operations and events, and use reclaimed rainwater in the ice system to create the greenest ice in the NHL.”

The arena will also ban single-use plastics, only use compost and recycling bins, have predominantly locally sourced food, and have all-electric operations powered entirely with renewable energy, in part from on-site solar panels. 

Amazon’s Climate Pledge initiative, started nearly a year ago, seeks to attract companies to pledge to become carbon neutral by 2040, and the company created a related $2bn fund designed to advance technologies that reduce greenhouse gases.

The company has a recently extended rights deal with the National Football League, and its Amazon Web Services has relationships with several sports entities including Major League Baseball. But the Seattle arena alignment in its home market, even without its own corporate branding, represents one of its largest sports-related efforts to date.

The naming of the NHL expansion team, meanwhile, has been postponed until the fall in attempt to not be in the words of team officials “tone deaf” as the United States goes through a large-scale reckoning around racial injustice following the death of George Floyd while in police custody. 

The franchise, the NHL’s 32nd, is going through trademark processes with several finalists for the team name.

“If you camp out on one name with everything that happens in the trademark world, you put yourself at some risk, so we’ve got a handful of names that we think can work,” said Tod Leiweke, NHL Seattle chief executive and Tim’s brother, to NHL.com. “We probably have a leader in the clubhouse. But we’re working away on it…It won’t be too far off.”