Tuesday night’s lighting of the Climate Pledge Arena ‘crown ID’ was a glorious final step in creating a new entry on the Seattle skyline. Here’s the story behind what you see…
By Bob Condor
On a stormy Seattle night—dare we call it Krakenesque?—Climate Pledge Arena took its illuminated place on the city’s skyline Tuesday. The arena’s four-sided “crown ID” lit up at precisely 5 p.m.
Climate Pledge Arena general manager Steve Mattson did the honors, pressing an oversized red button to switch on a glowing green stack of “Climate” and “Pledge” atop a soothing blue “Arena,” beaming in east, west, south and north directions. The lighting marked a major milestone in the construction of a brand-new arena under its 1962 World’s Fair landmark roof and served as a brilliant finishing touch on the making of the signage.
The design and renderings started here in Seattle with reviews by stakeholders including Amazon and The Climate Pledge leadership, Oak View Group, and Seattle Kraken. The work was widely supported by the arena’s and franchise’ partners at the Seattle Center, in our community and throughout the landmark process.
Next, the bid for sign manufacturing was awarded to Jones Sign Company. A shorter-than-usual timeframe prompted Jones Sign to begin the work in two locations: Building the framework to hold the letters at its Green Bay, WI, headquarters and fabricating the letters themselves at the Jones Sign plant in Sparks, NV, just east of Reno.
The Sparks, NV, work involved a multiple-step process of creating 54 letters. If this were a game show, you would want to vowels versus consonants: There were 12 E’s and 9 A’s under construction during the month-long process. Because each letter needed to be a certain bend or angle, Jones workers did each letter in groups of 12, nine, six (L’s) or three.
“We put on the backs and sides of the letter (resulting in squarish-can format), painting the insides white overall inside walls—we call them ‘returns—so they will reflect the light,” said Jeff Goodfellow, operations manager for Jones Sign Reno on Nov. 30, moving day for the sign pieces. “Then we assembled the faux-neon look in a sandwich-configuration. Normally not as many steps, but we had to paint three colors, green and blue, plus the sides of the can are gray.”
Michelle Geer, the operations coordinator at Jones Reno, said workers were excited all month about building signs that were destined for national hockey broadcasts and an inconic permanence on Seattle’s skyline: “It’s been a big challenge … there was a lot of figuring this out as we go. It makes it fun to see it installed. If I ever get there, I can take my family and say I was a part of that.”
The lights of the sign are LED and choosing faux-neon uses 30 percent less power than neon.
“Neon is an energy hog and high maintenance because you have to change out the lights,” said Goodfellow. “LED will last tens of thousands of hours. This is a vanguard step for the [Climate Pledge] movement rather than the signs of old. It’s better for the planet.”
On the Nov. 30 moving day, trucks arrived in Sparks, NV, to carry the signage is pieces. Stacking Climate and Pledge and Arena on one truck bed, tied off but standing upright with no coverings (hey, it’s going to get wet sooner or later), would be too tall to clear various underpasses and other challenging structures on the 751-mile route. The first truck loaded in Sparks carried two “Pledge Arena” pieces back-to-back, then smaller trucks departed with two “Climate” pieces.
Bob Lepak, vice president of manufacturing and installation at Jones Sign, was one of eight crew members who travelled to Seattle for assembly work on the Seattle Center fountain lawn during the latter part of last week, then working a ground crew and crown ID cage crew last Saturday when the four signs were lifted and delivered by helicopter to Lepak and four crew fellow crew.
“I didn’t realize the excitement level until I arrived in town,” said Lepak. “I really started to get the vibe with people walking by the sign [stationed on the Fountain lawn]. I haven’t experienced people being so interested in the signs as this week and especially [on installation day]. It’s privilege to be part of it.”
Lepak said he thought “a lot about the Climate Pledge message” during the week of preparation (there was inspection of the roof cage early week) and Saturday’s installation (“the adrenaline gets going up there”). He said it will impact how he thinks about doing his job and how Jones will fabricate its signs.
Saturday’s weather-perfect day showcased the new crown ID’s natural feel and visibility while also assuring that the signage fits into the landmark structure of the 1962 World’s Fair roof and the glass curtain wall that holds it up. Tuesday night, the weather was wet-perfect for the new sign to use the inside whites of the letters to glow green to the city and beyond while dabbing green reflections on that familiar roof and, if you look closely at video footage, you can even see green in the storm clouds. Steve Mattson, Climate Pledge Arena general manager and senior vice president at Oak View Group ,switched on the signs’ letters. Via Green Bay to Reno to Seattle, let their be faux-neon light.
“We are thrilled Climate Pledge Arena is taking its spot on the iconic Seattle skyline,” said Kaan Yalkin, senior manager for The Climate Pledge at Amazon. “It is an exciting day. We feel sports and entertainment is unifying for people. It brings folks together to rally around something important to them. Climate Pledge Arena is an opportunity to build on that drive and enthusiasm to inspire fans to take action on the climate crisis. We want the arena to be a call to action.”