Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena has furthered its ambition to be a net zero carbon facility by agreeing a partnership with renewable energy infrastructure fund  Excelsior Energy Capital and solar energy systems developer Unico Solar Investors.

The deal has been signed with arena developer Oak View Group (OVG) and Seattle Kraken, the NHL expansion ice hockey franchise which will play in the facility. It will lead to the installation of onsite solar arrays.

The arrays, which produce energy totalling 1.2 megawatts, are a key component of the project’s commitment to becoming the first arena in the world to be net zero carbon certified by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI).

“Climate Pledge Arena’s commitment sets a new standard for sports and entertainment venues, and Unico is excited to be a part of this iconic project that further elevates the clean energy transition into the mainstream,” said Brett Phillips, co-founder and vice-president of Unico Solar.

“We look forward to delivering these innovative projects in time for the first puck drop later this fall and hope they will inspire other commercial property owners and users to capture the value of solar energy across their operations.”

The 18,100-seat multi-purpose arena located at Seattle Center is currently undergoing a full redevelopment under the historic landmark roof designed by renowned architect Paul Thiry. Solar arrays will be installed on the new Alaska Airlines Atrium and the First Avenue North parking garage, in addition to the Kraken Training Center at Northgate, where the NHL’s 32nd franchise will train.

Once installed, the solar arrays will convert light to power the arena. The onsite systems will combine with off-site renewable energy sources to power the arena with 100% renewable energy. The installation is part of a 250 MW portfolio of commercial and industrial solar projects being developed by Unico Solar and Excelsior across North America.

“The installation of solar arrays at Climate Pledge Arena is a step toward achieving our goal to be the first net zero carbon certified arena in the world,” said Rob Johnson, vice-president of sustainability and transportation for the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena. “They will also be a visual reminder of our commitment, as well as an education piece, for every visitor that comes to the arena.”

In other news, Climate Pledge Arena, OVG and the Kraken have teamed with other Seattle sports teams and Seattle University (SU) to back a new MBA in Sports and Entertainment Management (MBA SEM) with a focus on diversifying leadership in the industry.

SU’s Albers School of Business and Economics is behind the program, which will also involve NFL American football team the Seattle Seahawks, MLB baseball franchise the Seattle Mariners, MLS soccer team Seattle Sounders and WNBA basketball side Seattle Storm.

The seven Seattle sports and entertainment companies will partner with the university to advise on the curriculum and offer fellowships to students. A commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is one of the hallmarks of MBA SEM, with SU claiming it is the first program of its kind to build on DEI as a core philosophy.

The curriculum will focus on venue management and operation; venue sustainability for sports organisations and music/entertainment tours; and DEI and anti-racism in sports, entertainment in sports and venue management.

“We know that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) and female leadership is lacking in our industry and with this program we have an exceptional opportunity to address this and instigate change,” said Tod Leiweke, CEO of Seattle Kraken.  

“It is unprecedented to see so many organisations come together around one cause and we look forward to welcoming the inaugural class and seeing this program grow into a model around the world.”

Image: Unico Solar