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Climate Pledge Arena Seattle Bezos Amazon NHL Oak View Group
Artist rendering via NHL Seattle

Amazon, Bezos team up with NHL Seattle to present ‘Climate Pledge Arena’

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So, Amazon is teaming up with NHL Seattle and the Oak View Group to transform Key Arena into “Climate Pledge Arena.”

In 2020, we’ve been bombarded with stories you can classify as “both strange and terrible.” If Amazon and NHL Seattle back up these promises, Climate Pledge Arena would be a story that qualifies as strange and … maybe really good?

Let’s begin with the strange part.

Climate Pledge Arena aims to produce “greenest ice in the NHL”

Frankly, it’s strange to see mega-billionaire Jeff Bezos pumping up “the greenest ice in the NHL.” But, again, 2020. Bezos posted about Climate Pledge Arena on Instagram, and it’s all a lot to take in:

NHL Seattle and Amazon explained how this “first net zero carbon-certified arena” would work in greater detail here:

The partnership was formed to make the Climate Pledge Arena the first zero-carbon arena in the world, powered exclusively by renewable energy including both on-site and offsite solar rather than the widespread standard use of natural gas in arenas and stadiums. The arena will run solely on electric for daily operations, eliminating all fossil fuels from the building and installing the first all-electric dehumidification systems in the National Hockey League.

So, this sounds like more than merely buying the naming rights to Key Arena. In a vacuum, it all sounds incredible.

Granted, it’s also tough to avoid Boise State blue field jokes when hearing about “the greenest ice in the NHL.”

Boise State field Climate Pledge Arena greenest ice
(Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)

But, kidding aside, all NHL teams should think long and hard about making the arena process more sustainable.

The United Nations gathered disturbing statistics about water scarcity, if you want to combine some worries about the future with the usual concerns regarding the present:

  • In 2013, the Global Water Institute estimated that 700 million people could be displaced by water scarcity by 2030.
  • Frankly, certain numbers are already scary. About 4 billion people already experience severe water scarcity for at least one month per year.

With such realities in mind, it’s fantastic to learn about Climate Pledge Arena’s … pledges.

Justified skepticism of Bezos, Amazon being involved

As great as all of this sounds, don’t blame those who are suspicious about Amazon/Bezos being involved.

This isn’t merely about whether or not Amazon paid federal income taxes. As great as that greenest ice might be, it’s absolutely fair to criticize Amazon’s overall environmental impact.

Beyond the company’s larger footprint, plenty of people can argue that Bezos could do more as an individual. As the world’s richest human, Bezos boasts almost unfathomable resources to make the world a better place. (Forbes estimates Bezos’ net worth at a ridiculous $163.4 billion).

We’re talking about a stack of money so large, your eyes almost glaze over.

So, really, Bezos probably has the resources to make many, many arenas into climate pledge arenas. One sheet of “the greenest ice in the NHL” doesn’t smooth everything else over like a well-steered Zamboni.

Still, by itself, Climate Pledge Arena sounds promising.

“Having worked on some of the greenest projects in the world, this project stands above everything in its ability to reach a broader audience and address climate change and other global environmental issues,” Seattle architect Jason F. McLennan said, via the NHL Seattle release. “I knew the world would force more and more sports and entertainment venues to eliminate all carbon emissions. It was just a matter of when and where. I am delighted it is now and here in Seattle.”

Here’s hoping that Climate Pledge Arena becomes a trendsetter. Not just for the NHL and other hockey arenas, either. Maybe this could be part of Bezos making more giving pledges overall?

And, on a smaller, NHL scale … maybe a team name is coming soon for NHL Seattle?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL Seattle arena reopening, team name reveal delayed

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The NHL’s 32nd franchise will have a name. Eventually. But with all that’s going on in the world at the moment, making such a grand announcement doesn’t seem like the best of ideas.

NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke told The Seattle Times that there’s a chance the name could be revealed in the fall. The organization has continued to work on trademarks for multiple names and has started designing logos and uniforms.

“It’s not the right time,” Leiweke told Geoff Baker. “Vegas did it a year out. We’ve got ample time, and the thing this organization will never be is tone deaf. So we’ve got to pick the right time, and we’ve got to make sure all of our ducks are in a row.”

We know that the choices are down to five names since that’s what the franchise placed inside the Seattle Space Need time capsule back in October. Come April 21, 2062 — if we haven’t already — we’ll learn the four choices that didn’t make the cut.

Leiweke also revealed that the reopening of KeyArena will be delayed by a few months with the COVID-19 pandemic slowing down construction.

“Any delay is absolutely minimal. Given what we went through the workers have kept building. But there have been issues with supply lines,” Leiweke told the Associated Press. “If it’s not going to be the date we hoped it’s not very long thereafter. And it’s impressive how they’ve actually kept things on schedule. If our target was early summer of 2021 to say we’re going to hit it sometime in the summer is pretty good considering all things.”

The privately funded project is expected to cost $930 million.

The delay shouldn’t affect the hockey team hitting the ice that October, but it has all but ruled out holding the NHL Draft and the expansion draft there next June.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL Seattle raises $1 million for COVID-19 assistance

NHL during the Seattle Center Arena groundbreaking ceremony
Getty Images

NHL Seattle is determined to be a positive influence in the community and will support local at-risk families and nonprofit organizations during this challenging situation.

Tuesday, Seattle’s leadership group announced that staff and partners of the organization have raised $1 million to assist those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our NHL and New Arena dreams for Seattle were born out of a strong collaboration and partnership with the City to create something powerful and lasting for our community,” CEO Tod Leiweke said in a statement. “In that spirit, we are committed to giving back to those among us with an urgent and immediate need.”

A large percentage of the funds raised will go to the United Way of King County’s Community Relief Fund to support the Office of Sustainability and Environment’s (OSE) expanded grocery voucher program. It will distribute $800,000 in grocery vouchers to working people who have recently lost their jobs or experienced a reduction in hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These grocery vouchers will be critical to helping working families put food on the table,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said. “I’m deeply grateful to our partners at OVG and NHL Seattle for their efforts to support families and non-profits in Seattle.”

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Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Stadium work mostly ongoing, though altered by pandemic

SEATTLE — Workers are still showing up in Inglewood, California, Las Vegas, Seattle and Columbus, Ohio, and making progress on stadium and arena projects.

At Belmont Park on Long Island, and in Austin, Texas, the work has mostly come to a halt.

New stadiums and arenas mean revenue for pro teams and construction often falls under suffocating timelines so the doors open on time and the buildings can start making a return on investments that run into the millions or billions of dollars.

But there aren’t any blueprints for dealing with a pandemic. So, work has stopped in some locations, while construction has continued in others under strict guidelines.

“Safety and health are the priority, but that’s always been there,” said Ken Johnson, the construction executive overseeing the NHL arena project in Seattle. “The real thing was to get to really smart people who have built a lot of big projects to say, we’ve got to do it differently.”

Eight stadiums or arenas are under construction or about to break ground in the five major professional sports in North America.

NHL projects are underway in Seattle and New York with expected opening dates in 2021. MLS has four stadiums in the works, three of them for expansion teams in Austin, Sacramento, California, and St. Louis.

The most pressing are the NFL stadiums being built in Los Angeles for the Rams and Chargers and in Las Vegas for the relocating Raiders.

SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles is scheduled to host its first event on July 25 before the Rams and Chargers move in sometime in August. Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas doesn’t have an event scheduled until an Aug. 22 concert, but deadlines are still looming.

Both projects have been given the OK to continue while California and Nevada are under stay-at-home orders because of COVID-19. But the coronavirus has infiltrated the LA project with two workers testing positive and Turner AECOM Hunt, the company overseeing SoFi Stadium, has reportedly begun daily temperature checks for workers on site along with social distancing measures.

Rams COO Kevin Demoff recently raised the possibility of the stadium being delayed in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

“This is not the time you want to be finishing a stadium, in this environment as you prepare,” Demoff told the Times. “Because it’s when you need to be all hands on deck, walking through the building every day, meeting with your staff, working out the kinks and planning for it. So when you’ve been building something for a few years, you would love an optimal environment to finish it.”

Two workers have also tested positive at the Las Vegas site, but construction has continued with the hopes of completion in late July.

Seattle is also under a stringent deadline.

The city’s expansion NHL team should have time to get the building open for it to begin play there during the 2021-22 season, but the team also wants to host the expansion draft and potentially the 2021 league draft next summer.

An issue is the complex nature of the construction and the lack of a fallback option if there are major delays. Initially, work stopped on the site for several days after a stay-at-home order was issued, but construction was allowed to resume under safety precautions.

Johnson said the workforce has been broken into groups of 10 or less. All equipment and tools are cleaned immediately after use. All workers are also checked when they arrive on site and the overall number of workers there has been reduced by about 20% for now.

“These are really important rules that we all need to follow to get that buy in and so far, that’s what we’ve seen on site,” Johnson said.

The urgency for the Seattle project is mainly associated with the roof, which weighs 44 million pounds and is currently resting mostly on temporary supports. The roof is what remains of the original KeyArena, once the home of the SuperSonics, and it will stay in place because of its status as a historical landmark.

While that project presses on, work on the new home for the New York Islanders came to a stop on Long Island. The building is scheduled to open in 2021, though the Islanders can play additional games at Nassau Coliseum if the new arena falls behind schedule.

The league with the most ongoing construction projects is MLS.

Austin FC is joining the league in 2021, but the timeline for its stadium could be altered after construction was stopped. There are temporary options for Austin FC and the league has adjusted schedules in the past around team’s stadium situations.

St. Louis and Sacramento — both set to join in 2022 — have yet to break ground on their stadiums, although when that happens they may be facing delays. Both teams were expected to start their projects this spring.

Columbus has been allowed to continue construction on its new downtown stadium with completion tentatively set for summer 2021, midway through the MLS season.

Laviolette wants another chance to coach in NHL

Peter Laviolette
Getty

Few NHL coaches have a resume that compares to the one Peter Laviolette has compiled during his 18 years as a head coach.

His teams have won 637 regular season games, while he his one of just four coaches in NHL history (Dick Irvin, Mike Keenan, and Scotty Bowman being the others) to coach three different teams to the Stanley Cup Final, having done so with Carolina, Philadelphia, and Nashville.

With a resume like that it’s only a matter of when, and not if, he ends up back behind another NHL team’s bench.

As he said this past week to NHL,com, he is eager for that opportunity and using the ongoing NHL stoppage to prepare for what could happen when he gets his next opportunity.

“Right now, I think I’m just focused on going back to what I found has worked for me as a coach and go back to that,” said Laviolette, via NHL.com. “I don’t have a team, I don’t have any players, but what I can focus on is what happens when I can go to a team and I can start to get involved with the players and the identity of the team and building that team, building the organization.”

More, via NHL.com:

“I think sometimes in coaching when you’re watching, always watching and always learning, sometimes you can forget what it is that you brought to the table in the beginning,” he said. “What’s important to you? For me, what I’ve been doing right now is I’ve been going back and getting what’s important to me as a coach, systemically, identity, team building, player personnel, and thinking about that and wherever that may take me.

“Right now, it’s just a plan. I think you’re constantly learning about the game; there’s been so many changes in the way the game’s played. … In the same sense, I don’t want to get off of what I know works for me. That may not work for somebody else, but I know it works for me, so I want to make sure that next time I’m ready to go in looking for that.”

Laviolette was supposed to coach team USA at the 2020 World Championships in Switzerland, but that tournament was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

He had been coaching the Nashville Predators until he was fired in early January in his sixth season with the team. In the previous five seasons the Predators had never missed the playoffs, won a Western Conference championship, as well as a Presidents’ Trophy with the league’s best record.

At the time of his firing they were on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture following what had been a disappointing, yet also frustrating, first half. It was disappointing because the team had not met expectations. What made it frustrating is the manner in which they got there. While the Predators’ 5-on-5 play has been as good as any other team in the league, and at a level that is usually reserved for Stanley Cup contenders, their special teams and goaltending had been failing them.

He was replaced by former New Jersey Devils coach John Hynes.

The only question for Laviolette now is where he ends up, and that is a question that can not even begin to get answered given the current situation in the league. We still do not know when the 2019-20 season will resume and what will happen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, something that would significantly dictate what the NHL’s coaching market looks like.

Minnesota and San Jose both have interim coaching situations with Dean Evason and Bob Boughner respectively, while it also seems to just be a matter of time until the Detroit Red Wings go in a different direction behind their bench. Another postseason disappointment for the Tampa Bay Lightning could also really turn up the heat on Jon Cooper.

The other wild card option, of course, is the situation in Seattle which will eventually need to name its first coach.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.