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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Climate Pledge Arena – Seattle Kraken

Photos by Lloyd Brown & Marc Viquez

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.43

Climate Pledge Arena 334 1st Avenue North Seattle, WA 98109

Year Opened: 1962 / 2021 Capacity: 17,100


Seattle’s New “Green House”

When the NHL expansion Seattle Kraken takes to the ice their uniforms are multiple shades of blue. However, their new Seattle home is decidedly “ green.” The Climate Pledge Arena stands in the footprint of the former Key Arena, with the roof being the only portion of the former arena being preserved.

The Climate Pledge portion of the new arena’s name does not represent a corporate sponsor purchasing naming rights to the facility, though Amazon did purchase the rights, choosing to make a statement rather than publicize itself. It does represent a commitment by the privately funded arena’s owners to create the first carbon net-zero certified arena in the world. Virtually every aspect of the arena’s operation will play a part in reaching this environmental goal.

One of the first ways the arena approached the reconstruction of the former Key Arena (built in 1962) structure was to retain its roof. This reduced the need to produce new steel for the structure. Secondly, the roof will play a major part in capturing the frequent rain in Seattle and transferring it to underground cisterns.

In turn that captured water is converted into the playing surface for the Kraken. The secondary reason for the retention of the original roof is that it qualifies the building as a National Register of Historic Places site, as the roof was the same one used for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

The preservation of the roof and its sharply pitched eaves presents one major drawback for this venue. Seats in the 200 level on the Puget Sound or western side of the building are faced with an obstructed view. This is due to the press box being designed as a bridge-like structure that hangs down into the viewing field for fans in the 200 level for the length of the rink on that side of the venue. The playing surface is visible, but only the base of the two video boards can be seen from the upper deck.

Climate Pledge Arena holds 17,100 in its NHL capacity. Energy to power the arena comes from a nearby solar farm…. Even the Zamboni operates on electricity. No fossil fuels are used in the generation of any of the energy.

The arena is “green” in more ways than one. Real plants such as ferns line the walls while nearby portals will have images featuring nature scenes such as waterways, mountains, and woodlands projected onto the walls. This brings nature inside creating a much nicer and less sterile environment than is found in most sports venues.

Food & Beverage 5

The food and beverage offerings at Climate Pledge Arena also play a significant role in reducing waste and the carbon imprint of the venue. Seventy-five percent of the ingredients are sourced from within a 300-mile radius of the arena. This reduces the carbon produced by long-haul trucking. The craft beers and wines are also sourced from local farms and wineries.

The seafood used in the kitchen meets Sustainable Seafood Watch Ratings. Coffee is purchased through the Rainforest Alliance and is Fair Trade certified by the USDA. Excess food is donated to area homeless shelters or is sent to be composted and the concession stands have done away with individual use plastic containers

Seattle has long been known as a “foodie” city, drawing offerings from diverse cultures. As a port city, it draws much of its food from the sea. Among the restaurants and concession stands that service the arena are local favorites Ballard’s Pizza, Din Tai Fung, the Metropolitan Grill, Elliott’s Oyster House, Lil Woody’s Burgers, and Shakes and Just Poke.

Four concessions utilize scanning technology that allows customers to shop and pay for their items without dealing with a line. When an item is removed from a shelf sets off a sensor. The fan will then go to a checkout area at the front of the store to have their palmprint scanned. Their palmprint will have a credit card identified to it, as users will have pre-registered this information into the system. Stores utilizing this system include Starbucks, Lil’ Woody’s Burgers, Big Chicken, and 14 Islands from Saint Michelle.

The cost of food is quite high at Climate Pledge Arena due to its policy of ordering all ingredients within a three-hundred-mile radius of the arena. This, in turn, drives the price of food beyond a regular sports facility’s normal price range.

A sampling of locally sourced food offerings includes Bristol Bay Alaskan Pride which offers Wild Alaska Cod Fish and chips ($16), Grilled sockeye Street Tacos ($15), and clamor Bering Sea Wild Alaska Cod chowder for $9. Seattle’s Mercer Street offers bacon mac and cheese ($16.50), regular mac and cheese ($14), and pulled pork sandwiches ($14).

The Pacific Northwest is known for its large number of craft breweries and they are well represented at the PNW Crafts stand. Brews include Manny’s Pale Ale, Mac and Jack’s Amber, Tropic Haze IPA, Lush IPA, Kraken Hazy Pale Ale, Squeezy Rider IPA, and West Coast IPA, all of which cost $15.

Beverages run from coffee ($10), bottled water ($7), tea ($8) and Pepsi brand sodas are $8. Snacks include peanuts, popcorn, and candy, which all sell for $6. Most national beers run $12 for domestic beers and $13 for premium beers.

Atmosphere 5

The population of Seattle played a key role in the choice of Seattle as an expansion franchise. More than 32,000 people bought either partial season packages or season tickets before the announcement of the team’s arrival was confirmed. The expansion draft enthused the population as much as an NFL Draft.

The naming of the franchise also created great interest throughout the city, as more than 100,000 people voted for the eventual winner, the Kraken. The Kraken fits right in with the lore of a city with a long maritime heritage. The Kraken is a mythical giant octopus who lives in Puget Sound and has magic powers.

The team has incorporated the octopus into a stylized blue S logo with a single red eye staring out for you. Sales of Kraken merchandise are flying off the shelves at NHL arenas across the country just because it is such a cool logo. The full hockey uniforms are many shades of blue with the chest plate area featuring the stylized “S”.

Neighborhood 5

Climate Pledge Arena is located within the Seattle Center, home of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. Its neighbors include the iconic Space Needle, which has a revolving rooftop restaurant, as well as the glass artistry found at the Chihuly Garden and Glass, or the musical artistry found at the futuristic Museum of Pop Culture (also known as the Experience Music Project). The monorail system comes through the museum on its way to its final stop at the Space Needle.

The area around the Seattle Center offers hotels and motels at a wide variety of rates. Any of these lodgings would be within walking distance of the Climate Pledge Arena.

One place you will want to check out either before or after the game is The Angry Beaver Pub. It is the only pub in Seattle that is strictly devoted to hockey. The Angry Beaver has been in business since 2012 and has a large following amongst Kraken fans. They have some terrific hockey memorabilia on the walls.

Fans 5

In many expansion cities, it takes fans a while to learn the game and the players. Seattle has a very educated fan base, as the city has had the Seattle Thunderbirds team playing in Kent, a Seattle suburb, and the Vancouver Canucks are located just up I-5 about two hours from Seattle, and Seattle fans have been making weekend trips to Vancouver to catch a game or two for years.

Another example of Kraken fever is the fact that the team was able to sell more than 25,000 ticket packages in 10 minutes. This occurred before the NHL had even granted an expansion team to the city.

Aside from hockey, fans in the Pacific Northwest are traditionally great environmentalists. They treasure the clean waters, the clear views of the surrounding mountains, and the fresh air they breathe. They are more than buying into a new NHL franchise, they also wholeheartedly buy into what the Climate Pledge Arena is trying to do.

Access 4

To be honest, Seattle has some of the worst car traffic in the country. Part of this is geographical, as the city is bordered by a body of water to both its east and west, with I-5 running through the middle of town. The good side of this is that Seattle and its citizens use public transportation every day and see no stigma about using it.

Sound Transit offers an excellent light rail service that runs from the SeaTac Airport to the University of Washington campus. Riders going to a Kraken game would simply exit at the Seattle Center Station and cross the street to the monorail system. The monorail runs directly to the Seattle Center, where it is a leisurely walk over to the Climate Pledge Arena. Your game ticket allows you free rides to and from the game on the public transportation system.

Bikers can also make their way to the new arena where the management has bike valets to check in and watch your bike while you enjoy the game. For those who still want to drive, there are three main parking garages nearby. They are located on 5th Avenue, Mercer Street, and First Avenue North. Each garage has electric vehicle charging stations.

Return on Investment 3

Kraken games, especially in their first season, are not pocketbook-friendly. For instance, when the team was seeking pre-orders for tickets as an indication of the city’s interest in having a franchise, it received more than 32,000 season applications on part-season deposits from more than 32,000 fans.

With a rink that holds just over 17,000, demand exceeded supply, resulting in higher-priced tickets for a visiting fan trying to purchase a single-game ticket. On the secondary ticket market, the prices for a Kraken game often exceed $140 for a fifth-level seat. Seattle’s emphasis on farm-to-table food at its concession stands also drives up the concession prices.

Extras 4

Seattle won a Stanley Cup before the inception of the Kraken. In 1917 the Seattle Metropolitans defeated the Montreal Canadians to win the Stanley Cup. Ironically, Seattle was competing for a second Stanley Cup in 1919, when the series was canceled…. due to the breakout of the Spanish Flu pandemic.

The Kraken has one of the most diverse front offices in the NHL, as Everett Fitzhugh is the first African American to serve as the team’s main TV/radio announcer. The team has also hired the first female head of scouting in the league.

The Kraken will share the Climate Pledge Arena with the WNBA Seattle Storm, which has won several championships. City leaders are hopeful that the NBA will once again award the city with another NBA franchise to replace the Seattle Supersonics, who left town over a decade ago, to become the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Final Thoughts

The Climate Pledge Arena is much more than just the newest rink in the NHL. It is an experiment in using the most current “smart” technologies to minimize (hopefully to zero) the carbon footprint the facility leaves after each event it hosts.

Minimizing the carbon footprint can also serve to minimize operating costs, leaving more money to be invested in the team. Hopefully, Climate Pledge Arena will usher in a new generation of sports facilities built not just to create a wow factor, but also one where the environment receives major consideration. Then our entire planet becomes a winner.

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