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Saturday’s installation of the ‘vibrant’ Climate Pledge Arena’s ‘crown ID is milestone for all Seattleites to enjoy and serves as ‘visual reminder’ of commitment to its zero-carbon mission 

by Bob Condor

The Seattle cityscape gained a new symbol of brighter days Saturday.  On a pristine, sunny December morning, the four-sided Climate Pledge Arena “crown ID” was installed atop the landmark 1962 World’s Fair roof on the Seattle Center campus. Fittingly enough, the event marked two years since the Dec. 5, 2018 groundbreaking for the brand-new subterranean arena being constructed underneath.

The four signs were moved into place by a Blackhawk helicopter piloted by Doug Uttecht of Northwest Helicopters, in sync with a crew of workers on the Fountain lawn at Seattle Center and “cage” atop that iconic roof. The group worked efficiently and quickly—22 minutes of air time—to hook, lift and secure the 6,100-pound signs, moving counterclockwise from the north to the east. The weight of signs called for Uttecht to pilot the same Blackhawk he flew four months earlier this year fighting forest fires.

“The first sign is the most critical,” said Uttecht. “We weren’t sure with lots of flat surface and the roto wash [strong wind from helicopter] if the signs might spin. But we didn’t see anything aggressive like top spin. When it did spin, I mostly waited for it to turn in the right direction so the guys could grab the taglines below the sign itself and stop the spinning.”

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This splendid choreography ensued after the signs were fabricated in Sparks, NV, then tied down on truck beds, arriving as early as last Wednesday in full view and getting air time on local newscasts. Some trucks carried “Pledge Arena” portions of the signs; others hauled “Climate” pieces. A crew of eight (five were up top Saturday, three worked to hook below) traveled here this past week to set up support framework, then assemble the signs into one “Climate Pledge Arena” piece.

“I didn’t realize the excitement level until I arrived in town Monday,” said Bob Lepak, VP of manufacturing and installation for Jones Sign. “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 today. It’s privilege to be part of it.”

Lepak said the “adrenaline gets going” when a Blackhawk flies overhead with a “nothing easy about that” 6,100-pound sign. The tonnage persuaded Uttecht to not fill his fuel tank to keep the weight lower and not challenge capacity load. He stopped midway through the speedy half-hour to refuel.

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Rosie Selle, vice president of marketing for Climate Pledge Arena, was happy to point out the new crown ID fits into the zero-carbon mission of the future home of the Kraken and WNBA Seattle Storm, plus a coveted concert tour stop for world-renown musical acts and more.

“The faux neon LED lighting takes 30 percent less energy than traditional neon,” said Selle. “It was so beautiful and dramatic with the helicopter to see the crown ID go up. It is a vibrant and visual reminder for the Climate Pledge and our commitment to zero carbon.

“Plus, this is the first milestone you can see every day. You can’t take everyone on a construction tour inside the arena but we will now see the sign from several vantage points throughout the region. It’s taking its place in our skyline with mountains and Space Needle behind it.” 

Monty Anderson worked on the renovation of the 1962 arena in the mid-1990s, serving on the construction crew for eight months. He’s now executive secretary of Seattle Building & Construction Trades and was on hand Saturday

“Wow, with all this Covid-19 and masks, we’ve been pushed down a little bit,” said Anderson. “To be honest, I was teary-eyed watching here this morning.”

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