- Lloyd Brown
Climate Pledge Arena – Seattle Storm
Photos by Lloyd Brown and Aaron Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Climate Pledge Arena 334 1st Avenue North Seattle, WA 98109
Year Opened: 1962 / 2021 Capacity: 18,300
It’s The Storm Season Again!
The Seattle Storm is the most successful team in the history of the WNBA. In their 21 years of existence, they have competed in the playoffs sixteen times. They are four- time WNBA Champions and have won the title every time they have made it to the last series. Among the players who have played for Seattle are Breanna Stewart, Lauren Jackson, and Sue Bird.
The Storm returned to the site of their first home in time for the 2022 season. The Climate Pledge Arena is built on the site of the Key Arena, the team’s home from 2000 to 2018. The only part of the original arena that remains is its iconic roof. It was preserved as a historical landmark due to its link to the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. Other surviving links to that World’s Fair are the Space Needle and the Monorail. During the construction of the Climate Pledge Arena the team played at the Alaska Airlines Arena at the University of Washington and the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. The 2020 season was played in a bubble in Florida due to the COVID pandemic.
The Climate Pledge Arena has an overall capacity of 18,000 for sports events. However, the Storm utilize only the lower seating bowl for their games. This means that a crowd of 13,500 is considered a sellout. The Storm is averaging 10,500 fans per game in the Climate Pledge Arena. There are individual games, such as the playoffs, when the team may consider expanding the capacity.
Food & Beverage 5
The food and beverage program at Climate Pledge Arena plays 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 impact of long-haul trucking. The craft beers and wines come from local breweries and wineries. This helps the local economy as well as the environment. The seafood dishes meet Sustainable Seafood Watch Ratings. All coffee products (this IS Seattle after all!) is purchased through the Rainforest Alliance and is Fair Trade certified. Excess food is donated to local homeless shelters and food banks. Paper and other materials have taken the place of plastic in packaging and eating utensils.
So how ‘s the food? Seattle is a “foodie” town, with lots of cultures represented. As a port city, Seattle boasts of great seafood, it also is a melting pot of several cultures, with both Asian and European influences. These foods are represented at the arena by concessions stands from Ballard’s Pizza, Din Tai Fung the Metropolitan Grill, Elliott’s Oyster House, Lil Woody’s Burgers and Shakes and Just Poke.
The cost of food at Climate Pledge Arena is higher than most sports venues. A sampling of locally sourced food offerings includes Wild Alaska Cod Fish and Chips ($16), Grilled Sockeye Salmon Tacos ($15) and Bering Sea Wild Alaska Cod Chowder ($9). Local dairies and farms provide Bacon Mac and Cheese ($16.50) 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, Squeezy Rider IPA, and West Coast IPA, all of which cost $15.
Beverages run from bottled water ($7), coffee ($10), tea ($8) and Pepsi brand sodas ($8).
The Storm and the Climate Pledge Area work closely together to create a fun atmosphere for the entire family. First, the Storm name for the team was the favorite of the fans when the team was starting back in 2000. The name obviously relates the fact that Seattle has an earned reputation for the amount of rain it gets every year. The word “storm’ also can be interpreted as being aggressive or hard to stop once they have started. The team has cleverly used some storm-related terms in its gameday program. The mascot’s name is Doppler and the theme song when the team comes out of the tunnel prior to the game is AC/DC’s “Thunder Struck.”
The team also wants its games to be family friendly. Weekend games typically start at noon or 1pm. There is also a family fun fest on the plaza prior to Sunday afternoon games. The dance team for the Storm is not a bunch of scantily dressed folks gyrating on the floor, but a children’s dance squad. The team splits its breaks in the actions contests between adult competitions and children’s competitions.
The new arena provides the ability for some great light shows and videos on the two scoreboards above the action. The videoboards are not as big as you would find in some arenas but having two makes it very easy for fans to see the replays or other messages on the screens.
The Climate Pledge Arena is in the 74-acre Seattle Center complex. Seattle Center was the site of the 1962 World’s Fair. Today, the arena is located at the base of one of the icons of that World’s Fair, the Space Needle. Some of the newer attractions in Seattle Center are the Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Museum of Pop Music Culture (also known as the Experience Music Project) Other attractions located a little further away from the arena are the Pike’s Place Market and the Seattle waterfront.
The area around Seattle Center has dozens of restaurants and hotels/ motels to fit most any budget. These are located within easy walking distance of the arena.
The Storm have built a very strong fan base over their 20-plus years of existence. As the winningest professional sports team in town, they have always drawn well for their games. In addition to their performance on the court, the team has also excelled in working with their fans in the community. Every player on the roster has adopted a school, a neighborhood, or a senior center to work with. They go beyond just making an appearance… they are active in the leadership of their chosen social engagement. Where athletes sometimes are spoiled and out of touch with the residents, the Storm players excel in know their community.
Fans are also drawn by the uniqueness of the Climate pledge arena. People in the Pacific Northwest are typically very involved in environmental issues. They really “get’ what the new arena is doing to show that even a major sports facility can lower its impact on the environment to reach a goal of being a carbon net-zero certified arena.
Seattle fans also see the Storm’s return in the new arena as a test to show the NBA that the Emerald City can successfully support an NBA franchise. They would love to see the return of a team known as the Supersonics, even if it would be in the form of an expansion team.
Seattle traffic can be a nightmare, as the city is built on a steep hill between two large bodies of water. Then you have I-5, the main roadway between California and Canada running through the middle of it with lots of tractor trailer traffic.
Fortunately, locals look down on using public transportation to get around. As a part of the Climate Pledge, the arena wants fans to use less harmful modes of transportation to games to lessen the air pollution cars produce. There are some parking areas at the arena, but nowhere near enough spaces for everybody.
Sound Transit offers an excellent light rail system that runs from below SeaTac Airport in the south to the University of Washington on the north. Riders going to the Storm games would simply exit at the Seattle Center station and go upstairs to the Monorail. The Monorail delivers you to Seattle Center and the Climate Pledge Arena in about two minutes. Fans on the west side of Puget Sound can take ferry to Downtown Seattle and then board the light rail for the remainder of their trip.
Seattle has a large biking community, and the Climate Pledge Arena accommodates them with bike valets and bike racks outside the venue.
Return on Investment 3
An WNBA season is only thirty-two games long, so there are only sixteen home dates. As result the ticket prices seem high compared to other sports. Tickets begin at $50 and go as high as $100 for seats, other than the suites level. The Arena also comes with nineteen event-level suites and forty deluxe suites that look out over the lower bowl. These are all owned by corporations and season ticket holders. Concession prices are also higher than normal, as they are sourced locally and use only the freshest ingredients. The farm to table emphasis of the concessions program also drives up the cost of preparation and delivery.
The Storm is a leading team in the WNBA as far as getting involved with programs of social responsibility. Among their areas of interest are climate change, voting rights, children’s issues, social equity, LGBTQ rights, and the preservation of Title IX.
Sue Bird retires from the team after the 2022 season. In her nineteen seasons with the team, she was a 14-time All Star and a 5-time Olympian.
Amazon owns the naming rights to the arena but chose to make a statement about the importance of climate change on the environment. However, its involvement is more public as it holds the local broadcasting rights through Amazon Prime Video. It also has an automated Amazon convenience store on the concourse.
After a two-year absence due to construction, the Storm are once again playing under their old roof. That is the only thing that remains the same, as the Climate Pledge Arena is decidedly different than the old Key Arena. The facility’s goal of being the first sports arena to reach a carbon net-zero impact on the environment fits in well with the Pacific Northwest lifestyle. The locals are very supportive of the Storm, as they see them as the first step towards regaining an NBA team for the Emerald City.