Climate Pledge Arena: If the name is goofy, it’s at least goofy with a purpose
There are a lot of goofy arena and stadium names in the sports world.
Louisville, Ky., has the KFC Yum! Center – yes, that exclamation point really is in the name. In New Orleans, there’s the Smoothie King Center. Even KeyArena, with the lack of a space between the two words that made up its name, was pretty weird.
Frankly, nearly every arena, stadium, park, center, field, garden or fieldhouse in American sports that has sold its naming rights to a brand has a goofy name, because naming buildings after brands is in and of itself is goofy, but it’s what we’re used to.
What we’re not used to is the idea behind Climate Pledge Arena, the name that we learned Thursday has been bestowed upon the building being constructed under the roof of the old KeyArena and Seattle Coliseum on the grounds of Seattle Center, which is scheduled to become the home of the as-yet-unnamed NHL Seattle team in the fall of 2021.
It’s easy to tell we’re not used to the idea of something like Climate Pledge Arena because the initial reaction on social media to the announcement was by and large one of befuddlement and mockery (and to be honest I agree with those who have said it sounds like something out of a “Portlandia” sketch).
But I bet you anything, the name Climate Pledge Arena won’t sound all that funny in five or 10 years. In fact, it’s probably the start of a trend, and in my estimation it will be a lot better than the previous one when it comes to arena naming rights.
Just like the KFC Yum! Center or even T-Mobile Park and CenturyLink Field, the naming rights to Climate Pledge Arena were bought by a big company. The difference is that Amazon decided it wanted to deliver a message with the name. Say what you want about the name – people are going to call it preachy, and Amazon’s history with taxes in this city and other business practices around the world make it an easy target when it takes a stand. Completely fair, and this by no means should let the company as a whole off the hook. But the important thing is that Amazon didn’t just name it Climate Pledge Arena and call it a day. There are actions being put behind the arena so that it lives up to the name, too.
Related: What is Amazon’s Climate Pledge?
First of all, the “Climate Pledge” is an actual thing, a commitment to reach Paris Agreement goals 10 years early, so already right there Amazon is bringing attention to a cause that it champions as a company. Second of all, the news releases about the arena say it will be the “first net zero carbon certified arena in the world.” And it doesn’t sound like an empty promise. The goal is for the arena to generate zero waste from operations and events, use 100% renewable energy, and even repurpose rainwater to make the ice used for the NHL Seattle team’s games.
When the Climate Pledge Arena name was announced, it came with a produced YouTube video that explained the reasoning for the name, the message behind it, and most importantly how the message is being put into action. At the very least, I found what the people in that video said to be interesting, and the whole idea is a lot more palatable than if the NHL Seattle team was getting ready to play at “Amazon Arena” or something along those lines.
A long time ago, somebody had the idea to start selling the naming rights to sports buildings, and there’s been a lot of money made as a result. Now we may be entering a shift where these companies that buy naming rights instead shine a light on a cause and put their money towards something that can make a positive change. That should be looked at as a good thing. The world doesn’t need another “(Insert gigantic corporation name) Arena.” If Climate Pledge Arena turns out to be what the releases and video say it’s going to be, it can only be seen as a step forward.
Let’s put it this way. Say a kid goes to an NHL Seattle hockey game and they look up at the sign to read the name of the building. If Amazon had gone the usual route in naming the arena and the kid asked what Amazon is, they learn about the existence of an online retailer. But if they look up and read Climate Pledge Arena and they ask what Climate Pledge means, well, they’re going to learn something a lot more pertinent to the world they live in. And if they look around and see the arena operates in a way that doesn’t harm the earth, they’re going to wonder why other places don’t do the same and may even put more thought into their daily use of things like water, energy and waste.
All I’m saying is, if you think Climate Pledge Arena is a goofy name, at least it’s goofy with a purpose.