So we’re really doing this, huh?
Seattle is getting a hockey team, which is great (now bring back the Sonics, you monsters). While the team doesn’t have a name yet, the arena they’ll be playing in next season does. Because Seattle is a company town, Amazon of course bought the naming rights. And it decided to name it... Climate Pledge Arena. Climate. Pledge. Arena. You know, after Amazon’s commitment to go carbon neutral by 2040.
This is the biggest disaster in Seattle sports since Russell Wilson threw a goal-line pick in Super Bowl XLIX (go Pats!). When the arena name and mockups were announced on Wednesday, replies ranged from “is this real?” to “is this the Onion?” to “I’m still processing the initial news.”
Amazon has made an increasingly concerted attempt to build some climate bonafides. But much of it has been PR, and the arena is a prime example. The little things the arena will reportedly do right—no single-use plastic, offsetting emissions, zero-emissions Zambonis (!!)—are genuinely cool, assuming there are no loopholes. The big, glowing logo will rise above Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood to serve as, according to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Instagram post, a “regular reminder of the urgent need for climate action.” Specifically, Amazon’s climate action plan, which is wholly inadequate.
Which, OK, but also like... it was 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) in Siberia this weekend. It’s pretty damn clear we need climate action, and a majority of Americans know it! Cheapening the fact that the biosphere is suffocating at the hands of rapacious corporations like Amazon by turning it into a chintzy branding exercise ain’t it.
Maybe it’s Amazon that could use the reminder. For all the PR about the arena name and the pledge, the company saw its own emissions rise 15 percent last year. It fired workers who spoke out about climate justice and protecting warehouse workers. It leases cloud computing and machine learning software to fossil fuel companies, most recently getting the company behind the Keystone XL Pipeline to transition completely to AWS.
It’s almost like David Koch buying (or rather donating enough for) the name rights for the American Museum of Natural History’s dinosaur wing to launder his reputation an absolute monster. I asked my colleagues at Gizmodo to help come up with some names that more accurately reflect Amazon’s ethos and track record on the environment, worker rights, human rights, taxes, consumer protections, and inequality:
- The Plunderdome
- Death and No Taxes Arena
- Secretly Bankrolled By Shell And BP Arena
- Think Of All The Homeless People That Could Fit In This Arena
- [Jeff Bezos Shouting ‘Earth’ Over Deafening Drilling Sound] Arena
- ICE Is a Perfectly Good Law Enforcement Agency Arena
- Free Firephone Arena
- Not Smart or Articulate Arena
- OSHA Can Suck It Arena
- Noncommittal Pledge Arena
- Here’s What Other Arenas Have Called Themselves
- We Have a Few Corrections Arena
- N95 Masks Certified Safe JustinBieber.png Arena
- Add-On Square Gardens
- Alive Girl Arena
- Union Busting Arena
- The Arena of Public Relations
In the spirit of giving, Amazon is welcome to use any of these names should they choose to reconsider Climate Pledge Arena. Honestly, it might not be a bad idea because let’s be honest, nobody is going to call it that.
In conclusion, good luck to Seattle’s hockey team.