The completion of a subterranean tunnel and all-new rigging grid construction at Climate Pledge Arena moves us all one giant step closer to seeing our favorite acts and concerts
By Bob Condor
While sports fans can’t wait to see the Kraken and Storm take center stage at Climate Pledge Arena, make no mistake: Music and live entertainment lovers are about to hit the motherlode when the brand-new arena opens this fall.
“There’s a vibrant history of live music in Seattle, and we plan to carry on that tradition at Climate Pledge Arena,” says Rosie Selle, vice president of marketing for the arena. “Throughout construction, we’ve made significant upgrades to the building that will allow us to host world-class acts.”
Those upgrades include a 462-foot-long, underground tunnel underneath Thomas Street that is wide enough and tall enough for two semi-trailers to pass each other entering and exiting. The tunnel opened to traffic in late January, following months of hard work drilling through rock and dirt, stabilizing and reinforcing each four feet with steel and concrete, then doing it all over again the next day.
“The tunnel getting completed is amazing step,” says Nick Vaerewyck, vice president of programming for Climate Pledge Arena. “Shows we will bring to Climate Pledge Arena are getting bigger and bigger these days. There’s more weight, there’s more trucks … the opportunity [for acts with upwards of a dozen or more semi-trailers and buses] to park more trucks and hang more weight in this building is huge for us.”
Hanging more weight, providing new levels of entertainment, is now possible because the construction crew is putting the finishing touches on an all-new rigging grid located under the arena’s landmark 1962 World’s Fair roof. It can support 200,000 pounds, “easily supporting the needs of nearly any type of concert on the road,” says Selle. The rigging grid allows for multiple and many configurations, from a more intimate theater stage to a half-bowl concert gathering to a full-scale, full-house setup.
As importantly, “what awaits those truck drivers,” says Vaerewyck, driving from street level downward to the event level tunnel (roughly five stories below) will be eight loading docks that unload directly by the end-stage. What was once a much longer load-in/load-out with just two loading docks at the former arena is now a huge time-saver for entertainers and their road crews.
There’s more to keep entertainers happy and humming: Climate Pledge Arena will feature an updated arena event level with a dedicated artist compound, including four dressing rooms, a private green room with premium furniture and finishes, plus five traditional ancillary locker rooms, three production offices, a dedicated crew catering area, tour laundry facilities and catering kitchen. Increasing Climate Pledge Arena’s square footage to roughly double the previous 400,000 allows for such amenities that make a huge difference when booking acts.
“We will able to do a lot more types of events and entertainment,” says Selle. “It will be a much more efficient process than ever before.”
Just what types of events is still to be announced in coming months. The Climate Pledge Arena programming staff is hard at work discussing dates and commitments with musical and entertainment acts, agents and promoters. One show is definite: Tickets for The Weeknd, who just finished performing at the 2021 Super Bowl, went on sale Feb. 8 for a show to be in Seattle March 4, 2022. There will be lots more announcements in the coming months, including news of opening weeks and months of Climate Pledge Arena programming. Stay up to date by subscribing to the Climate Pledge Arena newsletter.