News is rarely all that shocking in 2020. Not because it’s been a ho-hum year, obviously, but because it’s been so out there, so hellish, that nothing can truly surprise us anymore. Political parties feuding over whether to take basic safety precautions during a global pandemic? Typical. Protesters serving free hot dogs in an occupied six-block area of Capitol Hill? You know what, that actually checks out. Murder hornets invading the United States? Wild—but we’re dealing with real problems over here.
But somehow what should have been the most boring news of the year—Amazon purchasing the naming rights to KeyArena, future home to the Seattle Storm and the city’s as-yet-unnamed NHL team—cut through the noise, flooding social media with versions of "Is this real?"
Amazon will name the arena “Climate Pledge Arena.” “It will be the first net zero carbon certified arena in the world,” according to Jeff Bezos’s Instagram (and at the time of writing, no secretly climate-friendly arena has stood up to defend its honor). The stadium will use rainwater “to create the greenest ice in the NHL.”
That's interesting enough by 2013 standards, maybe. But it's nothing compared to murder hornets. So why did it break everyone's brains?
Maybe the Climate Pledge Arena is surprising (in a good way!) because it's nice to see a step in the right direction from the company that will one day rule the world. Or maybe it's surprising (in a bad way!) because Amazon is constantly under fire for its impact on the environment, its last climate pledge has hit some bumps in the road, and a big green dome feels like another big, useless Band-aid.
I blame it on the name. Jeff Bezos, billionaire and owner of a pair of limited-access giant glass spheres, is probably the closest thing we’ve got to a real-life supervillain. Vader had the Death Star, and Sauron had Mordor—Bezos could have gotten poetic (or diabolical). Yet Amazon decided to fall in line with the Pacific Northwest's time-honored history of naming glorious arenas devastatingly boring things. The Kingdome? It was officially King County Multipurpose Domed Stadium. Most are just named for various sponsors: Safeco, T-Mobile, Providence (it's noteworthy that Amazon didn't take this route). There's the Tacoma Dome, but, like, we know.
Let's hope we figure out a better moniker soon. My coworker Allison suggested "Cool It Arena." Twitter, of course, had some ideas:
What on earth are we gonna nickname Climate Pledge Arena? The Greenhouse? An Inconvenient Roof?— Stephen Cohen (@scohenSEA) June 25, 2020
Clunky. Just call it The Amazon, home of Storm and Kraken.https://t.co/ATjRhIIHEa— Mossback (@KnuteBerger) June 25, 2020
My “I know my company has meaningfully contributed to ecological collapse and I’m not that sorry about it” Arena has people asking a lot of questions already answered by my arena. https://t.co/WeldbR9crG— austin walker (@austin_walker) June 25, 2020
"Doom Dome" sits right with me.