The Seattle Kraken and Oak View Group (OVG) have signed Premera Blue Cross, a leading health plan in the Pacific Northwest, as the newest commercial partner for Climate Pledge Arena, the NHL expansion ice hockey franchise’s future home.

Premera will serve as the exclusive health insurance partner of Climate Pledge Arena, with the partnership focusing on supporting the Kraken’s community partners, promoting behavioural health equity, community and youth hockey efforts and sponsoring gameday entertainment.

The Kraken, OVG and Premera will work closely to support the mission of YouthCare, a Seattle-based non-profit that works to end youth homelessness, and will use their partnership as a commitment to behavioural and mental health support. This commitment will include an annual Behavioural Health Night during a Kraken home game as well as a Health Equity Discussion Series hosted by the two organisations.

Additionally, a number of intermissions at Kraken games will feature youth hockey-focused presentations from Premera, along with displays at Climate Pledge Arena and Northgate Ice Centre, which will serve as the Kraken’s practice facility and a hub for youth and community hockey.

Tod Leiweke, CEO of the Seattle Kraken, said: “Our organisation is focused on the needs of our fans and local community partners. Given Premera’s work in underserved communities, partnering was a natural fit. Through this partnership, we have an incredible opportunity to make a real impact on mental health equity in our community both on and off the ice.”

Jeff Roe, president and CEO of Premera Blue Cross, added: “Premera has long recognised that homelessness is at its core a health care issue that predominately impacts communities of colour. Nothing is more important to a person’s health than having a place to call home. By addressing the behavioural health issues that can cause and effect chronic homelessness, YouthCare quite simply saves lives.”

OVG last week announced plans for a new 10,000-seat arena in Coachella Valley after revising a project for the future home of the Kraken’s American Hockey League affiliate team. Last year, OVG and Seattle Kraken, which will enter the NHL in 2021, were awarded an AHL expansion franchise and the team had originally been due to play at a new arena on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation in Palm Springs, California.

Groundbreaking for the new arena was postponed back in February due to “extenuating circumstances” and a new direction has now been revealed for the arena, which will be situated near the Classic Club golf course and not downtown Palm Springs.

OVG will work on the new arena with the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, with the project to include an adjacent training facility and community gathering spaces. The project will also work to a change in completion timeline.

The Kraken said the new location makes the arena more accessible to fans across the nine cities of Coachella Valley, including Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Desert Hot Springs, Indio and Coachella.