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Oak View Group launches OVG Canada

Global sports and entertainment company Oak View Group has announced the launch of OVG Canada.

The new division will offer strategic services in venue development and management, booking and content development, sponsorship brand consulting and third-party partnership sales.

Led by president Tom Pistore, the leadership team also includes SVP of partnerships & brand consulting Josh Epstein and SVP of partnerships & revenue Zach Feldman.

“You cannot develop, operate, or sell Canadian facilities or assets from the US, and therefore it’s critical for us to be a part of Canada,” says Oak View Group chairman and CEO Tim Leiweke. “We want to create the best sports and facility sales organisation in Canada. Very few companies in our industry have the infrastructure that we have now in Canada and the US to serve our Canadian clients, giving OVG the competitive edge to deliver best in class results.”

“Oak View Group Canada will leverage our diverse experience, deep understanding of the Canadian marketplace and the strength of our global leadership team to provide industry-leading solutions and opportunities”

Pistore was most recently president of UBS Arena, while Epstein led Bank of Montreal’s North American sponsorship strategy and Feldman was previously SVP of partnerships & revenue at the Premier Lacrosse League.

“Oak View Group Canada will leverage our diverse experience, deep understanding of the Canadian marketplace and the strength of our global leadership team to provide industry-leading solutions and opportunities to the Canadian market,” adds Pistore. “After an exciting journey launching UBS Arena in New York, I could not be more excited to launch OVG Canada alongside a best-in-class leadership team that will deliver incredible results for our present and future partners.”

Oak View Group made its first foray into Canada last year via a partnership with Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG) on the redevelopment of the downtown arts and entertainment district in Hamilton, Ontario.

The link-up served as the launching point for the Canadian office and will include the renovation of the 19,000-cap FirstOntario Centre, which will be privately funded with more than CA$50 million. Construction is anticipated to begin in the autumn.

In addition to Leiweke, OVG Canada will be supported by an executive team, including OVG co-founder Irving Azoff, OVG360 co-chair Peter Luukko, OVG business development president Francesca Bodie and OVG360 and Arena Alliance president Chris Granger, who also oversees all venue and hospitality operations in Canada.

“We are committed to putting capital to work in Canadian live entertainment facilities as we’ve done elsewhere around the world and are thrilled for our project in Hamilton to come to life,” says Bodie. “We look forward to expanding and growing the OVG platform with additional owned-and-operated facilities across Canada.”

 


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Wembley Stadium partners with Oak View Group

Oak View Group (OVG) has been hired by The FA (Football Association) to expand and diversify sponsorship, content and other opportunities at London’s Wembley Stadium.

The new partnership will see OVG work with the existing Wembley team to drive additional sponsorship, commercial and content opportunities for England’s 90,000-cap national stadium, which celebrates its 100th birthday in 2023.

OVG already works with UK venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Ascot Racecourse and Silverstone.

“Wembley Stadium is a global icon, known the world over for hosting some of the most historic moments in sport and live music and we are incredibly proud of its addition to the OVG family,” says OVG CEO Tim Leiweke. “As venue owners and operators, OVG knows the importance of maximising sponsorship opportunities and delivering a year-round calendar of brilliant events. We look forward to what we know will be an innovative and productive partnership working with the topflight team at Wembley Stadium and The FA.”

“This partnership will open up new and exciting sponsorship and content opportunities for Wembley Stadium”

Concerts lined up at the stadium in 2022 include Harry Styles (18-19 June), Ed Sheeran (24-25 & 29-30 June, 1 July), Westlife (6 August) and Coldplay (16-17 & 19-20 August). The venue created a second concert window for the summer of 2022 to meet the “incredible” demand for live shows.

“We’re delighted to partner with Oak View Group, which will open up new and exciting sponsorship and content opportunities for Wembley Stadium,” says Mark Burrows, FA chief operating officer. “We’re very proud to welcome millions of people to our stadium each year for iconic sporting and music events, and this partnership will help us to build on that.”

OVG is also announcing a partnership with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars in the UK. The NFL has confirmed the Jaguars will return to Wembley Stadium for a home game in the 2022 season, marking the team’s eighth appearance at the venue. OVG will be working with the Jaguars directly to develop UK-based commercial opportunities.

 


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OVG unveils Palm Springs arena naming rights deal

Oak View Group (OVG) has announced a 10-year naming rights deal with financial services firm Acrisure for its new arena in Palm Springs, California.

Located in the heart of Coachella Valley, the 11,500-seater Acrisure Arena is projected to open in the last quarter of 2022 and will host more than 150 major events annually.

The partnerships also includes permanent exterior signage, entitlement to the arena’s largest premium private hospitality space, and prominent Acrisure logo placement on the roof and throughout the venue. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“Acrisure Arena will be the crown jewel of the entire Coachella Valley and a major destination for the biggest artists”

“We are proud to announce our naming rights agreement with Acrisure,” says OVG chief Tim Leiweke, leader of the arena project. “Acrisure Arena will be the crown jewel of the entire Coachella Valley and a major destination for the biggest artists, concerts, and sporting events in the world. Acrisure and Oak View Group are dedicated to using this platform to improve the lives of everyone in the Coachella Valley.”

OVG has pledged the venue, which will be home to the Coachella Valley Firebirds ice hockey team, will focus on “prioritising technology, sustainability and green initiatives”.

In addition to sports and entertainment, the arena will accommodate conventions, large meetings, international events as well as award shows and exhibitions.

 


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Oak View Group completes Spectra acquisition

Oak View Group (OVG) has completed its acquisition of Philadelphia-based venue management firm Spectra.

The companies say the move, which was first announced in August and has now been given regulatory approval, creates “one world-class, full-service live events” organisation. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“Now that OVG’s acquisition of Spectra is complete, we can get down to the business of delivering an expanded highly competitive set of services that anticipate and meet the evolving needs of our global client base,” says Tim Leiweke, CEO of OVG. “We’ll begin the important process of fully integrating the talented team at Spectra and bringing together our two organisations to create something truly extraordinary in the live events and entertainment industry.”

OVG recently opened the Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center, and is also developing projects including UBS Arena in Belmont Park, NY; Moody Center in Austin, TX; New Arena in Coachella Valley, CA; Co-op Live in Manchester, UK; as well as arena projects in São Paulo, Brazil, and Hamilton, Ontario

The combined organisation will serve current and future clients with a “complete array of venue and hospitality services”.

Integration of the two companies is expected to begin immediately with Chris Granger at the helm beginning 1 December as the new CEO of OVG Facilities, a division of the Oak View Group focused on providing full-service venue management expertise, event programming, and now food & beverage solutions to arenas, stadiums and convention centres globally.

As the needs and uses of these venues continue to evolve, we will be there, with our clients, leading the way

“Venues are incredible community assets, the very last town square, perhaps the remaining place where diverse people gather to laugh, to cheer, to sing, to dance, to dine, to conduct business, to protest, or to vote en masse,” says Granger.

“As the needs and uses of these venues continue to evolve, we will be there, with our clients, leading the way. We will respect the planet; we will mirror the diversity of the many communities in which we do business; and we will provide our fans and our clients with extraordinary service, indelible memories, and easy confidence in knowing that we can again, and forever, gather safely.”

Spectra will fold its 330 top-tier clients across North America and the globe – including stadiums, arenas, convention centres, performing arts centres, fairgrounds, and casinos – into the newly merged company.

Dave Scott, chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectacor, adds: “The combined strength, energy, and expertise of OVG and Spectra has created a dynamic company, the likes of which the industry has not yet experienced. The leadership team has a powerful vision for growth, which will bode well for their collective clients, employees, and partners. As Spectacor Events & Entertainment continues to partner on content development, I look forward to watching the company grow and prosper.”

OVG will remain headquartered in Los Angeles, with Spectra’s HQ remaining in Philadelphia.

 


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Oak View Group plants first flag in Canada

Oak View Group (OVG) is making its first foray into Canada with a brand new partnership, which will serve as the launching point for a Canadian office.

The global sports and entertainment company is partnering with Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG) on the redevelopment of the downtown arts and entertainment district in Hamilton, Ontario.

This will include the renovation of the FirstOntario Centre (cap. 19,000), which will be privately funded with more than CA$50 million.

Construction at the arena is anticipated to begin in the autumn of 2022 and take place over two years in two phases.

Internationally renowned arena architect BBB, who managed the renovation of Madison Square Garden in New York City, will lead the arena renovation design.

“We believe Hamilton is the perfect market to plant our first OVG Canada flag”

OVG, which has offices in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Philadelphia, says the deal will kickstart the company’s Canadian operations.

Tim Leiweke, CEO of OVG, and former past president of Canada’s Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment commented, “I have been very fortunate in my career to be part of the Toronto community and call Canada home. I saw first-hand the continued growth in the Toronto Metro area, and we believe Hamilton in particular, needs a venue that reflects the growth, great fans, and community thus requiring that new facilities are developed and new opportunities are created.

“We believe Hamilton is the perfect market to plant our first OVG Canada flag and will be a venue that compliments Toronto and the Scotia Bank Arena [cap. 19,800]. We think there is a need, an opportunity to transform the current arena and we are extremely excited to be partners with the City of Hamilton and HUPEG on their vision.”

OVG is also leading the redevelopment and operations of Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center as well as leading arena development projects for UBS Arena in Belmont Park, New York; Moody Center in Austin, Texas; New Arena in Coachella Valley, CA; and Co-op Live in Manchester, UK.

 


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Coldplay to open OVG’s Climate Pledge Arena

Coldplay will be the first act to play Oak View Group’s (OVG) Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle – the world’s first carbon-neutral certified arena.

The band’s frontman, Chris Martin, previously told BBC News that Coldplay would put touring plans on hold as they investigate how to make their concerts more sustainable.

“Our next tour will be the best possible version of a tour like that environmentally,” said Coldplay frontman, Chris Martin.

“We would be disappointed if it’s not carbon neutral. The hardest thing is the flying side of things. But, for example, our dream is to have a show with no single-use plastic, to have it largely solar-powered. We’ve done a lot of big tours at this point. How do we turn it around so it’s not so much taking as giving?”

The band will fulfil their dream by performing at the 18,100-seat Climate Pledge Arena, which will be powered exclusively by renewable energy sources.

The arena will also be a functionally zero-waste building from day one and will eliminate all single-use plastics by 2024.

“We’re so excited to have Coldplay who wholeheartedly believes in and supports sustainability efforts, be the first to play”

Coldplay, along with support act We Are King, will perform at the former KeyArena on 22 October, marking the official reopening.

Tickets go on sale on 15 September at 10:00 PST through Ticketmaster. Amazon Music will also be streaming the show live on Prime Video for all customers – with or without a Prime membership – as well as Twitch, and on the Amazon Music app.

Oak View Group CEO, Tim Leiweke, says: “We’ve embarked on what some may say was an impossible journey to turn this historic landmark into a world-class net-zero carbon certified arena that’s first of its kind. This is why we’re so excited to have Coldplay who wholeheartedly believes in and supports sustainability efforts, be the first to play in the building for what will be a night to remember.”

The concert will be the first public show at Climate Pledge Arena as a part of a weeklong opening celebration across the Seattle Center Campus.

Other opening week festivities include the VenuesNow Conference (hosted by OVG), a ribbon-cutting ceremony and Seattle Kraken’s inaugural home opener marking its first season.

Today’s news follows Leiweke’s call to arms for the live entertainment industry to take action on climate change. Read the full IQ interview here.

 


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Wasserman revels in branding opportunities for artists

New live music power player Casey Wasserman believes his company’s experience in working with brands will be the number one opportunity for its many new artist clients, following its multi-billion dollar acquisition of the Paradigm Talent Agency’s American assets.

As chairman and CEO of Wasserman Media Group (and the president of the Los Angeles Olympic organising committee), which includes newly rebranded Wasserman Music, he said buying Paradigm at a time when there is no live music was an easy gamble. “To be able to buy an agency that had scale, like Paradigm’s US business – and the UK business is not far behind for us – was a unique opportunity,” Wasserman told delegates at Pollstar Live! yesterday (17 June).

“Timing is luck. We didn’t buy a music business because we could get it cheap. We bought a music business because we believe in the music business – and we believe in it for the next 20 years – and opportunity to own a business with a great group of people and a great set of clients fits with how we think about the world.”

Appearing on stage alongside Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke and C3 Presents’ head promoter and talent buyer Amy Corbin, during the conference’s final keynote conversation (Reviving Live, What’s Next?), Wasserman said adding close to 50 music agents to his company’s existing 130 sports agents was a great deal.

“On the work we do for our brands, music is a big platform – it’s artist driven, it’s event driven, it’s festival driven, it’s building driven,” he stated. “The science behind what makes dollars valuable in the sports world and the music world and the cultural landscape is very similar, and we think one of the big opportunities that we have is that we are amongst the leaders in helping brands spend their dollars. I think it’s the biggest single opportunity for artists from the connectivity inside our company. Our ability to understand what the brands want and what the artists will do, and bring those two together, will create a lot of value for the artists.”

Noting the company’s strengths in data analytics, Wasserman added, “As our team likes to say, ‘the world is drowning in data and starving for insight.’ We think the insights we can offer on top of the data that everyone spews is as valuable to an artist as it is to an athlete or it is to a brand, and we’ve already started to do that. Most of the time I’ve spent with our agents is in thinking about brand connectivity and brand relationships, and for us that always starts from the data.”

“We think the insights we can offer on top of the data that everyone spews is as valuable to an artist as it is to an athlete”

Leading the panel, Oak View Group’s Francesca Leiweke-Bodie congratulated C3’s Corbin on selling out 450,000 tickets for Austin City Limits in record time. Corbin admitted that working from home was akin to being “in an isolation chamber,” unable to bounce ideas off her team, making the challenges of organising this year’s event considerable. “We had no idea that we would sell out in just three hours. The appetite was insatiable, and that’s promising for our industry.”

She added that with such C3 events as Lollapalooza to organise, amidst a tour landscape that will be the busiest ever in 2022 and 2023, her team are already working on festivals well into the future. “The traffic I’m seeing in 2022 is pretty crazy, so we’re being forced to get out ahead of it and at least secure the headliners… the sooner we can get started the better.”

Meanwhile, with seven arenas due to open in the next 18 months, Oak View Group’s Leiweke revealed they will announce “about ten more” in the near future. And with Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena set to open in October, Leiweke took the chance to speak about the sustainability challenge that the music industry is facing.

“We have about a ten-year window where if we don’t solve our planet and sustainability, and what we’re doing to ourselves, the whole Earth is going to disappear one day,” warned Leiweke.

Applauding Amazon chief Jeff Bezos for coming up with the idea of a carbon-neutral arena, Leiweke continued, “Climate Pledge [Arena] is the first step; UBS Arena will also be carbon neutral, but will take more time as we have existing utilities we have to deal with. But we are committed ultimately now to make sure that for our industry we are a platform and we’re going to invite everyone up in October so we can share with you everything we’ve learned about how we can be carbon neutral, how we can help make this Earth a little bit better, and how we can lead the charge at making everyone understand that we have a few years to change this and if we don’t, we’re going to lose this battle.”

On a more upbeat note, Leiweke concluded that the industry’s recovery from the pandemic lockdown looks like it could be phenomenal.

“The amount of content that’s going to be out there is going to be spectacular and the amount of demand is the best we’ve ever seen,” Leiweke noted. “There’s new leadership and a new direction on how we ultimately maximise the value of touring for an artist by thinking outside the box. I think we’re now living in the golden age for live entertainment.”

 


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Tim Leiweke: “Climate change is the fight of our lives”

Oak View Group (OVG) co-founder and chief executive Tim Leiweke has issued a call to arms for the live entertainment industry to take action on climate change.

“Climate change is without a doubt the fight of this generation’s lives,” he tells IQ. “At OVG, we believe that we, along with the whole live entertainment industry, have a unique opportunity to inspire others to take action on this era-defining issue,” adding that sustainability is one of OVG’s core values.

The global sports and entertainment company, along with ecommerce giant Amazon, is a few months out from opening the world’s first carbon neutral venue, Climate Pledge Arena (CPA) in Seattle.

“It hasn’t been easy, but I’m proud and excited that CPA will become the world’s first certified carbon neutral arena when it opens later this year. It’s also going to lead the way with commitments to zero waste from events and using recycled rainwater to service the NHL ice-rink,” explains Leiweke.

OVG and Amazon have set their sights on the 18,100-seat arena becoming ‘the most progressive, responsible, and sustainable arena in the world’ – a commitment underpinned by four goals.

The first goal is to maintain CPA’s carbon elimination by eschewing fossil fuel consumption for daily use; generating renewable energy from onsite solar panels; reducing all carbon emission activities and offsetting those not possible – like transportation – by purchasing credible carbon offsets.

“We have a unique opportunity to inspire others to take action on this era-defining issue”

CPA will also aim to eliminate single use plastics and achieve zero waste by ‘greatly simplifying the supply chain’.

Finally, the arena, home to ice hockey team NHL Seattle, will conserve water via its ‘rain to rink’ system which will harvest water off the roof and collect into a 15,000-gallon cistern. According to OVG, the system will save 50,000 gallons annually.

Other ways the CPA will conserve water include waterless urinals and ‘ultra-efficient’ showers, significant on-site retention tanks reducing stormwater runoff and water bottle filling stations throughout the arena.

Beyond this the CPA will have an advisory committee with partners at Amazon; create transparency and public reporting on initiatives progress; host arena events that celebrate the environment and its commitment to green operations; partner with educational institutions to utilise the arena as a classroom for environmental education.

Leiweke says that OVG is taking the learnings from CPA to guide future projects: “All of our arenas in both the US and around the world, from the UBS Arena in New York to Co-op Live in Manchester, are putting sustainability at the heart of both design and operations”.

If all goes according to plan, the UBS Arena (cap. 19,000) in Belmont Park, New York, won’t be far behind CPA in achieving a carbon-neutral status.

The arena, scheduled to open in time for the 2021-2022 National Hockey League season, is projected to be 100% carbon neutral by 2024 – which will make it the first to do so on the East Coast of the US.

“Climate Pledge Arena is going to lead the way with commitments to zero waste from events”

The UBS Arena is currently being built to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction (Leed) standards.

Elsewhere, Manchester’s Co-op Live (cap. 23,500) is leading the way for environmentally sustainable arenas in the UK, both in terms of design and future commitments.

The roof alone boasts 10,500 square-metres (1.5x a football pitch) of rooftop solar panels, air source heat pumps, high spec insulation and façade designed to reduce cooling and heating requirements.

The venue’s architecture is paired with renewable energy, low carbon technologies and intelligent building controls such as LED lighting design and smart building systems to minimise energy use).

Plus, in a bid to meet Manchester City Council’s 2038 net zero carbon goal, the venue is also using 100% electric fuel.

Taking note from CPA, Co-op Live will also use 100% rainwater harvesting for toilet flushing, bathroom use and water efficient catering, and will aim to be zero waste.

The Co-op Live development is targeting Breeam (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) ‘excellent’ accreditation.

Other arenas OVG is currently developing include Moody Center, Austin; Coachella Valley Arena, Palm Springs; Savannah Arena; Cardiff Bay Arena; and Santa Guilia, Milan.

 


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ILMC 33: The Open Forum reflects on the year that wasn’t

Fresh off the back of the worst year in the history of the live music business, a quartet of industry titans put their heads together to figure out where we go from here for ILMC’s traditional opening session, the Open Forum, which moved to a mid-afternoon time slot for this year’s one-off digital edition.

Live Nation’s executive president of international touring, Phil Bowdery, kicked off the panel in a different way to usual. “We normally start off this session by talking about the year’s biggest grosses,” he said, before asking panellists how they’d spent the past year in the absence of selling hundreds of thousands of tickets.

Emma Banks, agent and co-head of CAA in the UK, summed up the mood when she said “we’ve all been busy fools”, rearranging tours and shows with no knowledge of when live music might be able to return. “Anybody that claims they know when we’ll be able to do international tours, they know something the rest of the world does not,” echoed Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group. “This thing has its own path of destruction it has to reap, and we’re going to have to be patient.”

When the time is right, “we have to open up globally,” said Jay Marciano, CEO of AEG Presents. “There was a time last year when everyone was experimenting but socially distanced shows, but at 50% [capacity] we realised we’d basically paid for the lights and the stagehands and then not made any money. And it takes away from the live experience.”

Referring to the number of fans who have kept their tickets for postponed events, Marciano added that he’s been struck by “how patient our fans have been”.

“I want to open up – I have $5 billion invested in nine new arenas. But in order to open up we have to have an agreement [as to when], because if one of us opens up too early it’ll affect the rest of us, too.”

“We’re still losing 2,000 people a day in the United States to this virus. So we need to hunker down” until it’s safe to reopen, he added.

“I’ve never seen this kind of demand … We’re going to get through this”

While “Covid has been horrendous”, there have been upsides to 2020’s time out, said Banks. “One thing that has been good is no planes – hopefully that’s been helping the planet we’ve been wrecking,” she explained. “Travel represents a tiny amount of carbon emissions, but – without taking away the gig – what we’ve learnt with Zoom, Webex, Teams, etc., is that we don’t need all the meetings we have, which we fly all over the world for often, often only for a day. We need to rethink what we’re doing.”

She also highlighted that artists have had time for other projects, whether its working on a book or starting a podcast, because they haven’t been on the road.

Both Leiweke and Marciano also pointed to advances in new technology such as 5G while touring has been on pause. “Technology didn’t take a year and a half off,” said Leiweke. When shows return, “we’re going to be see brand-new technology that will enhance the experience but won’t replace it”, he added.

Whenever it is live returns, none of the panellists were in any doubt about fans’ continued passion for live music, referencing the incredible pent-up demand for shows that has been building throughout 2020/21.

“There’s a whole load of catching up to do,” said Banks. “But it will be OK.”

“I’ve never seen this kind of demand. [For 2021] we have 180 holds in our new arena in New York already,” added Leiweke. “We’re going to get through this.”

Tickets for ILMC 33, which include all panels available to watch back until 5 April 2021, are still available. Click here for more information.

 


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OVG, Amazon team up for first carbon neutral arena

The former KeyArena in Seattle is to become the first carbon neutral venue in the world, powered exclusively by renewable energy sources.

Ecommerce giant Amazon announced it had secured the naming rights to the 18,100-seat arena yesterday (25 June). The venue, home to ice hockey team NHL Seattle, is to be known as the Climate Pledge Arena.

The online retailer has pledged to make the venue the first-ever net zero carbon certified arena when it opens in summer 2021, with zero waste production, ice made from reclaimed rain water, locally sourced food and an elimination of single use plastics by 2024.

The project, a joint collaboration between Amazon, NHL Seattle and venue operator Oak View Group (OVG) – which is funding the reconstruction of arena – has reportedly reached the $1 billion mark, partly due to the upgrades required to achieve carbon neutral status.

OVG has hired Seattle architect Jason McLennan, a specialist in sustainable design, as chief sustainability consultant for the arena.

“It’s not just about one arena. It’s the platform,” says OVG CEO Tim Leiweke, who is leading the arena development efforts.

“We must take steps to build arenas and stadiums that front-and-centre align with our zero-carbon mission statement”

“We challenge music, facilities, concert tours, and sports. It is our time to step up to face the challenge of our generation. We must take steps to build arenas and stadiums that front-and-centre align with our zero-carbon mission statement.”

“Instead of negotiating the assets, we’ve been brainstorming: What if we did this? What if we did that?” adds Tim’s brother, Tod Leiweke, president and CEO of NHL Seattle.

“Every day, we get to promote this idea of a sustainable world. It’s a beautiful vision, that we can change the course of what’s happened to our planet and dream of having a zero-carbon footprint. It’s going to require investment and policy, but it’s absolutely possible.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says the arena’s name is to serve as “a regular reminder of the importance of fighting climate change”.

“We look forward to working together with Oak View Group, a new Climate Pledge signatory, and NHL Seattle to inspire global climate action,” says Bezos.

Amazon created its climate pledge last year with activist group Global Optimism, pushing for corporate America to achieve net zero carbon by 2040. Current signatories include Verizon, Infosys and consumer-goods giant Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB).

Earlier this week, Amazon announced the Climate Pledge Fund, a US$2 billion venture capital fund dedicated to investing in clean energy.

 


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