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With Climate Pledge Arena, Amazon puts promise in lights

With Climate Pledge Arena, Amazon puts promise in lights

NEW YORK — Amazon is bringing its climate change message to a new arena. Literally.

The company, eager to prove that it’s working to combat climate change, is paying to name a Seattle hockey stadium Climate Pledge Arena. The new moniker is meant to recall the Climate Pledge, an initiative Amazon launched last year to push other companies to join it in being carbon neutral by 2040. The venue was previously called KeyArena and is in the midst of a major renovation.

Companies typically pay millions to name stadiums after themselves. But Amazon said its name and logo won’t appear outside the arena.

“Instead of calling it Amazon Arena, we’re naming it Climate Pledge Arena as a regular reminder of the urgent need for climate action,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO and founder, in an Instagram post.

A rendering for the arena, set to open next year, has Climate Pledge at the top in green. The word Arena is underneath in smaller blue letters. Amazon didn’t disclose how much it’s paying for the naming rights but said it will last at least a decade.

Asked if there was better way to use its money, Amazon’s head of sustainability Kara Hurst said the company invests heavily on other climate-related projects.

“It isn’t the only thing we’re doing,” she said.

The online shopping behemoth, which ships billions of items around the world on planes and trucks that guzzle gas, has been trying to highlight its greener side after employees criticized the company for not doing enough to combat climate change.

The company is using more solar and wind energy to power its businesses and ordered 100,000 electric vans that will start delivering packages next year. Recently it said it would spend $2 billion to fund companies or technologies that could help fight climate change.

Nonetheless, Amazon’s carbon footprint has gotten bigger. It rose 15 per cent last year from the year before and its emissions from fossil fuels rose 18 per cent. Amazon, however, said emissions for every item it sold fell five per cent.

Amazon hopes the new name will spread the word about the Climate Pledge. And the more than 18,000 people who cram into the arena to watch a game will get a sustainability lesson at the same time.

Trash cans will be replaced with recycling bins and uneaten snacks will be composted. Natural gas is gone from the arena and replaced with electricity. Reclaimed rainwater will be used for the ice, which Amazon proclaimed in a press release makes it the “greenest ice in the NHL.”

The arena, which will be home to Seattle’s yet-to-be-named hockey team, is being completely rebuilt underneath KeyArena’s iconic slanted roof that received historical landmark status and can’t be altered as part of the construction. 

It will also be the home for the Seattle Storm of the WNBA and will host concerts and other events. Built on the site of the original Seattle Center Coliseum that was opened for the 1962 World’s Fair, it is near the Space Needle and a 20 minute walk to Amazon’s headquarters.

It’s the first time Amazon has bought naming rights for a major venue. But a theatre in Las Vegas, where pop icon Britney Spears had a long-running residency, is named after Amazon-owned online shoe seller Zappos.

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