What’s Going On At “The Pledge” In Seattle?

So many things have been closed for so long in Seattle that you may not even remember what was there before.

Take Seattle Center. It’s a sprawling complex that’s home to the Space Needle and the Pacific Science Center.

It was also once home to a place called KeyArena.

Wait, the Key is gone?

Well, mostly, yes. The original roof, which, like the rest of the arena, was built for the 1962 World’s Fair—the same event that brought us the aforementioned Space Needle—is still there, but literally, every other thing about the former arena will be brand-spanking-new when it opens for the first time this fall.

And you might as well get used to the new name: Climate Pledge Arena.

How does the roof stay the same while everything beneath it is new?

In short, credit the wonders of modern construction technology. After a $1 billion (!) remodel, there is now an expansive, state-of-the-art arena beneath the original roof.

Let’s run through some of the numbers, features and future uses of this new/old Seattle landmark.

The big corresponding change coming to Seattle is that we will have a brand-new professional hockey team as of this fall. The Seattle Kraken will call Climate Pledge Arena home. Though the schedule for the upcoming season has not been announced yet, the NHL Expansion Draft, which will give the new Seattle team its players, is set for July 21st.

The WNBA’s Seattle Storm will also call Climate Pledge Arena home after a peripatetic past couple of years. They bounced around from other locations during both the construction process and the pandemic.

The seating capacity is in the 17-18 thousand range, depending on whether we are talking about a hockey game, a basketball game, or a concert. Yes, expect this new arena to host plenty of concerts on the nights of the year when there are no sporting events. That $1 billion construction job can’t be paid for with sports alone.

The other not-so-secret intention of this arena is to one day house a future NBA franchise. You may recall that Seattle used to have a team called the Supersonics, who packed their bags for Oklahoma in 2008. Local fans have been pining for (and seething over) their return ever since. While the NBA is tight-lipped about their expansion plans, odds are more likely than not that in the next year or two, Seattle will be able to have a men’s basketball team again. Ideally, they go by the Sonics so that that fans new and old can partake in a tradition that dates back to the 1960s.

There are already a number of them scheduled to begin this fall in terms of concerts, with a diverse selection of international acts, from Andrea Bocelli to Bad Bunny.

In terms of the name Climate Pledge Arena and its, well, climate pledge, expect the new arena to feel very earth-conscious. According to the Climate Pledge Arena website, a number of features will be gentle on the environment. From using rainwater that runs down that historic roof to be incorporated into the ice of the hockey rink to concessions offerings that lean towards the local and sustainable, they will do everything within reason to live up to the name. However, one does wonder how environmental that massive construction process was.

Many people are dusting off their pre-pandemic wardrobes and finding out if their old barbers and hairstylists are still in business.

Maybe it’s also time to dust off your perceptions about what the Seattle Center has to offer. Pretty soon, it’s going to be going down at the “Pledge.”

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About Paul Redman 122 Articles
Paul Redman is a writer and chef in Seattle who grew up in the Midwest. His work has appeared in print and online, including San Francisco magazine, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Contrary. He eats too many chicken wings and cracks way too many dad jokes and food puns. Follow him on Twitter @predman.