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Amazon announces naming rights to NHL Seattle arena, first zero-carbon arena in world

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NHL Seattle

Amazon announces naming rights to NHL Seattle arena, first zero-carbon arena in world

History is coming to Seattle, Washington.

For the first time ever, KeyArena (former home to the Seattle SuperSonics, Seattle Storm and minor league hockey’s Seattle Thunderbirds) will be transformed and renamed into the first zero-carbon arena powered by exclusively renewable energy.

Just last week, NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke told The Seattle Times that both the name unveiling and reopening of KeyArena have been delayed. One week later, the arena has a new partnership and a new name.

The former KeyArena will now be named Climate Pledge Arena, and be home to the WNBA's Seattle Storm and the future NHL Seattle team.

The partnership is between Oak View Group, NHL Seattle and Amazon.

[RELATED]: Sockeyes? Totems? Seattle's NHL team is taking names

According to NHL Seattle: The partnership was formed to make the Climate Pledge Arena the first zero-carbon arena in the world, powered exclusively by renewable energy including both on-site and offsite solar rather than the widespread standard use of natural gas in arenas and stadiums. The arena will run solely on electric for daily operations, eliminating all fossil fuels from the building and installing the first all-electric dehumidification systems in the National Hockey League. 

Our goal is to make sure every visit to this arena will be enjoyable and memorable, and sustainability is a large part of that. It is not just about one arena, it's the platform. 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-center align with our zero-carbon mission statement. — Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group and leader of the arena project.

Here is what you can expect from the upgrades:

- The first arena to ban single-use plastics and commit to functional zero waste. Fans will see only compost and recycling bins, no trash cans.  

- The first arena to fully offset the carbon emissions of all events and related transportation by fans, sports teams and entertainers, achieving carbon-neutral operations and use.  

- The lowest embodied carbon arena in the world; saving the landmark roof and the new arena's subterranean footprint significantly reduces façade materials needed and the associated greenhouse gas emissions.  

- The greenest ice in the world using rainwater, refrigerants with zero greenhouse gas emissions and electric Zambonis.  

- The largest coordinated effort of fan engagement with climate issues of any NHL team.  

Read more from the press release here.

There will be many opportunities for our fans to make a difference nightly. We will now look to involve our fans and the community to continue to help teach the world. Fans someday will demand more of these types of buildings. It is challenging and expensive but a small step out of the way relative to the issue of sustainability and global climate change. — Tod Leiweke

Time to tip your cap to some great baseball players who were locked out of MLB

Time to tip your cap to some great baseball players who were locked out of MLB

I was lucky. As a very young boy, I saw Satchel Paige pitch. I saw Artie Wilson play, too. Both spent time with the Pacific Coast League Portland Beavers.

But I never saw Cool Papa Bell or Oscar Charleston or Josh Gibson play. I didn’t see Buck O'Neil play, either, but I did meet him and listened to him deliver perhaps the best banquet speech I’ve ever heard.

All of those men were stars in the Negro Leagues -- for you youngsters, that’s where Black baseball players got their chance to play professional ball before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947.

I wish I could have watched these men in their prime. The stories I’ve heard have always entertained me. It was amazing these players were not allowed to be in the big leagues, obviously. We were deprived of their talent and their enthusiasm.

I speak about this because this week marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Negro leagues. Many stories have been told about those days and a good many that I’ve heard speak to the love of the game these men had.

They weren’t paid much, didn’t always play in the best ballparks and often were treated as second-class citizens as they moved around the country. But what I always seemed to hear about was joy. Excitement. Fun. They were playing a game they loved, with teammates they loved.

Wilson became an icon in Portland when his playing days were over. He brightened up every room he entered with a ready smile and caring heart. I loved him and treasured time spent listening to his stories.

He got his start with the legendary Birmingham Black Barons in the Negro American League, played for several teams in the PCL, but loved Portland and retired here. He spent 30 years selling cars for the same company, Gary Worth. He won batting championships in the Coast League, led the league in stolen bases and was a terrific infielder.

He got his only 22 at bats in the major leagues in 1951, before being sent back to Triple-A, so the New York Giants could call up some young kid named Willie Mays.

In 1962, at the age of 42, the Beavers ran short of infielders and signed Wilson, who didn’t hit much but fielded well and acquitted himself well. The sight of him at that age, flashing a big smile, in the infield for the Beavers is a lasting memory.

But playing into old age was what Paige was known for. He toiled on the mound for two decades in the Negro Leagues, pitching nine innings almost every day, they would say. He was known for a fastball that was regarded as the swiftest in baseball. As the years went along, he added curveballs, knuckleballs, his famous hesitation pitch and every other pitch you could imagine to his arsenal.

But he didn’t get as much as a sniff of the big leagues until 1948, when Cleveland signed him as the oldest rookie in MLB history at 42. He managed to pitch in the majors until he was 46 and then spent many years in the minors, including his stint with the Beavers in 1961, when he started five games and had a 2.88 earned run average -- at the age of 54! He actually threw one inning for Kansas City in 1965, when he was 58!

If you want to know more about O'Neil and the others, I recommend a book by the great sportswriter, Joe Posnanski, “The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America.”

Posnanski -- along with Negro Leagues Museum president Bob Kendrick -- has been the one who has sparked this celebration of Negro League baseball.

The idea was originally to get major-league players, during a game, to come out of the dugout together and tip their caps to the players from the Negro Leagues. But the pandemic changed that plan, leaving something even better.

It became Tip Your Cap 2020. And you can read the wonderful story of how it came about, here.

And, I implore you to go to the website tippingyourcap.com to feel the love and emotion of all those who offered video tributes, including four living former presidents and a who’s-who of athletes in all sports.And what better day could you have than the Fourth of July for this -- a perfect time to combine baseball and history.

The Portland Fire had the support, fans showed up

The Portland Fire had the support, fans showed up

This summer would mark the 20th Anniversary of the Portland Fire’s inaugural season in the WNBA.

The Fire joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000 as the counterpart to the Portland Trail Blazers while playing all of their home games at the Rose Garden. The team folded; however, after just three seasons in the league.

To celebrate what would’ve been 20 years in the league, NBC Sports Northwest is releasing a three-part documentary series on the Portland Fire.

While catching up with former players, coaches and employees of the organization, one thing kept coming up:

Fire fans were loud, proud, and there were many of them.

[RELATED]: Portland Fire Part 1: The love and excitement for a WNBA expansion team

Former guard Tully Bevilaqua reminisced about playing in Portland

“Oh I loved it,” Bevilaqua said of her time in Portland. “The city itself was beautiful. It was a nice easy going pace, not that hustle and bustle type city so that was definitely appealing to me, very scenic -- going up on that drive, seeing the mountain tops there, especially with the snow peaks on them it was just awesome, so picturesque.”

In 2000, Bevilaqua signed as a free agent contract with the Fire and played with them for three seasons until the franchise folded after the 2002 season. She eventually went on to win a WNBA Championship with the Seattle Storm in 2004.  

Fire fan favorite Jackie Stiles says she was in awe of the fan support in the Rose City.

It was phenomenal. Oh my gosh, the Rose Garden -- what an amazing, amazing environment and facility. And our fans in Portland were great. I know I’m biased, but I felt like we had the best fans in the league. We really drew pretty well and I think we were towards the top in attendance, or I felt that way... Maybe there were just louder, but I loved our fans. They were incredible. -- Jackie Stiles on the Portland Fire fan base

Over their three seasons in the league, the Fire posted an overall record of 37-59.

Stiles, who was selected fourth-overall by Portland in the 2001 WNBA Draft, earned Rookie of the Year on August 16, 2001.

There’s no doubt that the love between the players and Fire fans was mutual.

“The sporting community was, I mean, you had obviously the Blazers -- they were very popular in town. So, there was a passion for it and we became a part of the community,” Bevilaqua said. “It was a great town and obviously you’ve got the Nike campus there as well, so I mean, that was huge just the passion for sports in the city… You could feel it. You could feel it in the air… When you run through the tunnel, and you hear the screams… the hairs on the back of your neck start standing up just thinking about it again.”

Yes, it’s true, Rip City has a lot for people to do and see; it just needs a WNBA team back to really have it all.

You can check out Part 1 of ‘What Happened to the Portland Fire’ right here.

We will roll out Part 2 of 'What Happened to the Portland Fire' on June 30 right here on our website, while Part 3 will be released the following Tuesday, July 7.

MLB set to return for 60-game season-- Here is what it will look like

MLB set to return for 60-game season-- Here is what it will look like

MLB baseball commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Tuesday that Major League Baseball would be making its return. 

According to the official press release, players can start reporting to camp on July 1st, with games to begin on either July 23rd or 24th. 

With much of the season already lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league will play a modified 60-game season. 

What will that season look like?

Let's first take a look at some other sports leagues like the NWSL, MLS, and NBA, all of which drastically altered their respective seasons to return to play.

Both MLS and the NWSL will skip traditional "regular season" play, instead choosing to play World Cup style tournaments. Due to having more games in a shorter time frame, MLS has expanded roster size and increased the number of substitutions allowed in-game. Both leagues will have all their teams report on one central location, with all MLS games being played in Orlando, and all NWSL games being played in Utah. 

The NBA will return next month, and like MLS it will be doing so with all its teams meeting in Orlando. The league will return with an eight-game regular season to decide playoff seeding. Teams not currently in the top eight have a small chance to catch up and make the playoffs. Once the "regular season" is done, if the ninth place team is less than four games behind the team in eighth place, than there will be a sudden-death style game to decide who gets the eighth and final playoff spot. Once the playoffs start, it's business as usual for the NBA, with the NBA Finals scheduled for late October. 

As for the MLB, it will look drastically different as well, including some very interesting rules changes. 

Here is what the season will look like:

  • The season will be 60 games in length
  • The proposed schedule will feature mostly divisional play, with remaining games to be interleague games played against the corresponding division. I.E., The AL West will play teams from the NL West
  • Each team will play 10 games against their division rivals, and four games against their interleague opponents
  • Teams will make just one trip to each city it visits. So, for instance, the Mariners could play 10 games against the Angels with a five-game series being played in each city
  • 10 teams will make the playoff, the playoffs will be played as normal

So, for you Mariners fans, we may not know the exact schedule, but we do know who they will play. The Mariners will play 10 games each against the Rangers, Athletics, Angels, and Astros. They will also play four games each against the NL West's Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks, and Rockies. 

When teams return to play, the schedule won't be the only difference. There will also be some rule changes and dates to watch:

  • NL teams can now use a Designated Hitter
  • If games go to extra innings, the innings will start with a runner on second base
  • Active rosters will be at 30 for the first two weeks, 28 for the second two weeks, and reduced to 26 players in week five
  • The trade deadline will be August 31st 
  • Players must be with an organization by September 15th to be playoff eligible

The shortest baseball season since 1878 looks to be a fun one. 

Can Major League Baseball actually safely play even a 60-game season?

Can Major League Baseball actually safely play even a 60-game season?

Major League Baseball, which never could come to an agreement with its players, is apparently going to force a season on those players, if the players agree to a proposed health and safety plan.

But you have to wonder if that return-to-play plan is actually going to work. So much time has been spent between the two sides trying to work out monetary and scheduling issues, there is a possibility that the plan to play -- which includes travel from city to city and a rushed training camp -- will not provide for player safety, in terms of physical readiness for a season and protection from COVID-19.

Baseball is not going to quarantine or play in a bubble. And although there will be no fans present at games, the teams are going to shuttle between cities and apparently not control the comings and goings of players and staff.

Given the virus situation in many MLB cities, this sounds reckless and dangerous.

But baseball has already botched an opportunity to do this thing right by delaying its return so deep into its usual season. It should have been playing games by now, with the sports spotlight nearly all to itself.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has been unable to find consensus between players and ownership and has done everything he can to show he isn’t up to his job. Yes, he works for the owners. All commissioners do.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t mediate, arbitrate and create consensus.

Mike Veeck, whose father (Bill Veeck, as in Wreck) is in baseball’s Hall of Fame for his innovative methods of running MLB teams, has been owning and operating minor-league and independent-league teams for years and recently described Manfred as a man not qualified for his job:

“Manfred doesn’t like baseball,” Veeck said. “He’s a labor lawyer. All he likes is winning a negotiation. And his right-hand guy, [Dan] Halem, he’s the same. I never thought I’d say this, but I miss Bud Selig. The game was his life. I believe that serving the ‘best interest of baseball’ that’s part of the commissioner’s job description … that should mean something.”

Amen. And MLB is going to have a very difficult time digging itself out of this miserable summer of indecision and acrimony. Especially in light of recent decisions to drastically cut back minor-league teams, which chops away at the sport's grassroots foundation.

This is going to be a very damaging summer for MLB, even if it does manage to somehow play a woefully inadequate 60-game schedule.

Iconic moments from "Junior," Ken Griffey Jr. documentary on MLB Network

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Iconic moments from "Junior," Ken Griffey Jr. documentary on MLB Network

MLB Network released the documentary “Junior,” on Father’s Day, which highlighted the astounding career of Seattle phenom Ken Griffey Jr. 

The 90-minute piece followed Griffey’s career from high school to his illustrious days in Seattle and his induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.  

There were plenty of highlights from Junior. Griffey’s selection by the Mariners as the first-overall pick in 1987, reaching the majors two years later at age 19 and becoming an All-Star for the first time at 20, and of course Griffey Jr. and Sr. becoming the first father-son duo in MLB history on the same team. 

Here’s a look at some of our favorite moments from Junior: 

Griffey's dog-pile moment

Before Damian Lillard hit the “bad shot,” waved goodbye to the Oklahoma City Thunder and was subsequently dog-piled by his Trail Blazers teammates, Ken Griffey Jr. was the Pacific Northwest’s original dog-pile hero. 

In the 1995 American League Division Series against the New York Yankees, Griffey hit five home runs in five games as the Ms rallied from an 0-2 deficit to take the series. Junior scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning on an Edgar Martinez double. 

Then, the dog-pile ensued at home plate and Griffey flashed a huge smile. 

The Griffeys on the same team

Major League Baseball is filled with prodigious bloodlines. In 1990, Ken Griffey Jr. was 20 and coming off his first All-Star appearance. His dad, Ken Griffey Sr. was 41 and in his second stint with the Reds. 

That August, Griffey Sr. was given 15 minutes to decide whether he wanted to retire, accept his release or be placed on the Reds disabled list. He decided to retire, then unretire and sign with the Mariners, on the same team as his son. 

One of the coolest father-son moments occurred on Sept. 14, 1990 when Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. hit back-to-back home runs in a game against the California Angles. 

Hitting 500th home run with dad in the crowd

Another sentimental father son moment came on June 20, 2004. Junior delivered the ultimate Father’s Day gift to Griffey Sr. when he knocked his 500th career home run over the right fence at Busch Stadium. 

Then there was that time Junior was grounded and had his car keys taken away by Senior for stealing a fly out while Senior was in left field and Junior was in center. 

Junior’s beef with the Yankees

Ken Griffey Jr. has long hated the New York Yankees. In “Junior,” it was finally revealed where Griffey Jr.’s grudge against the Yankees actually came from. 

In 1983, Junior detailed an incident with then-Yankees owner George Steinbrenner while visiting his father before a game. 

“I came up to visit my dad and it was just me and him. I got to the ballpark early and I'm sitting in the dugout and the security guard comes over and says, '[Then-Yankees owner George Steinbrenner] doesn't want anyone in the dugout.' My dad was like, 'What? He's my son.' So, he goes, 'Alright, hey go in my locker. But before you go, look at third base.' It's Craig Nettles' son taking ground balls at third base,” Griffey Jr. said.

“And at that time, my dad was 38 years old, he's like, 'I ain't fighting this no more. I got somebody a little younger. And a little bit better.’

“There’s certain things a dad drills into you as a kid that just sticks with you. And [to beat the Yankees] was one of them.” 

Enshrined in Cooperstown

Griffey Jr. was known for more than his 630 home runs. His smile, contagious personality, smooth swing, insane catches and explosiveness are also why people call him the G.O.A.T, including LeBron James. 

Junior was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 2016.

Shannon Boxx shares pride & joy of playing with USWNT while raising her pride & joy

Shannon Boxx shares pride & joy of playing with USWNT while raising her pride & joy

Shannon Boxx may be best known to the world as a three-time gold medal Olympian, but to many off the pitch, especially her children, she’s far more. 

A midfielder to take home the gold in 2004, 2008 and 2012, Boxx, who lives in Portland, Oregon, managed to play at the highest level AND be a mom at the same time. 

“Being a mom and playing at the highest level is an amazing thing that we’re allowed to do and we should be doing it,” Boxx said. “And I love that there are mom’s before me that showed me that, ‘hey, just because we want to have kids doesn’t mean we have to give up our career.’ And that was very valuable for me. So, I had a lot of good role models before me.”

Boxx is among the athletes featured by NBC Sports Northwest in a campaign to honor local Olympians and Paralympians from the Oregon and Washington areas, which began Sunday on Father’s Day and runs through Saturday, July 4.

The multiplatform campaign, which kicks off in the same time period that the postponed 2020 Olympic Track & Field Trials were scheduled to take place at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., will highlight local athletes through profiles and vignettes, which are presented by Toyota. 

Athletes who will be highlighted along with Boxx throughout the campaign include:

  • Long-distance runner and five-time Olympic medalist Galen Rupp
  • Decathlete and 1992 Olympic bronze medalist Dave Johnson 
  • Fencer and four-time Olympic medalist Mariel Zagunis
  • Sled hockey player and 2014 Paralympic gold medalist Rico Roman
  • Goalball player and two-time Paralympic medalist Jen Armbruster

The vignettes and profiles, along with new interviews from the athletes, will appear across multiple NBC Sports Northwest platforms, including “The Bridge,” The Brian Noe Show, Rip City Radio, the Talkin’ Blazers, Talkin’ Ducks and The Bridge podcasts, and NBCSports.com/Northwest.

Boxx, who was diagnosed with lupus in 2008, is the a pure testament of strength and resilience. In the video above, Boxx explains what being a mom meant to her while playing with the USWNT and how she hopes to inspire others, as others paved the way for her. 

Ken Griffey Jr. still hates the New York Yankees-- here's why

Ken Griffey Jr. still hates the New York Yankees-- here's why

Ken Griffey Jr. has had some disdain for the New York Yankees... for a long time.

On Sunday, he explained the reason as to why that is.

Griffey shared a few stories from about 40 years ago when his father, Ken Griffey, Sr., played for the Yankees during MLB Network’s documentary “Junior.”

The story of Griffey and his hatred from the Yankees all started when former Yankees manager Bill Martin had an employee tell Griffey Jr. and his brother, Craig, to pipe down while near the Yankees clubhouse.

Giffey Jr. felt that he was being singled out, as other sons of players were being just as loud.

Another story, Griffey recalled, adds more fuel to the fire.

“I came up to visit my dad and it was just me and him. I got to the ballpark early and I'm sitting in the dugout and the security guard comes over and says, '[Then-Yankees owner George Steinbrenner] doesn't want anyone in the dugout.' My dad was like, 'What? He's my son.' So he goes, 'Alright, hey go in my locker. But before you go, look at third base.' It's Graig Nettles' son taking ground balls at third base,” Griffey Jr. said.

“And at that time, my dad was 38 years old, he's like, 'I ain't fighting this no more. I got somebody a little younger. And a little bit better.’

The documentary shared an archived video of Griffey Jr. signing baseballs for Yankee fans. When one fan asks for Griffey to play for the Yankees, he responded with a quick “No."

If the Yankees were the last team … if they were the only team that gave me a contract … I’d retire.

Griffey Jr. went on to demolish the Yankees in five games, hitting five home runs alongside seven RBIs and an OPS of 1.488 in the series.

His Yankee hatred stuck with him since he was a child, and never let it go.

He never forgot what the organization did to him and how he felt disrespected.

One thing Griffey Jr. did not do was not play his best baseball when it was the Yankees.

Over his career against the Yankees, Griffey Jr. batted .311 with a .987 OPS and 36 home runs.

What is your Belmont Stakes, Triple Crown horse name?

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What is your Belmont Stakes, Triple Crown horse name?

It's race day at the Belmont Stakes!

The race will be the first leg of the Triple Crown, followed by the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5 and the Preakness Stakes on Oct. 3.

In advance of the race, let's figure out what your horse name would be!

What's yours?!

HOW TO WATCH:

What: Belmont Stakes

When: Today, 2:45 PM (ET)

Where: Belmont Park in New York

TV: NBC Sports

 

NHL Seattle team name delayed again, arena behind schedule 

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NBCSNW

NHL Seattle team name delayed again, arena behind schedule 

Seattle’s NHL team will have a name and arena…eventually, but fans who have been waiting patiently will have to wait a while longer.

NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke told The Seattle Times that both the name unveiling and reopening of Key Arena have been delayed. 

“It’s not the right time,” Leiweke said of a name for the NHL’s 32nd franchise. “Vegas did it a year out. We’ve got ample time, and the thing this organization will never be is tone deaf. So, we’ve got to pick the right time, and we’ve got to make sure all of our ducks are in a row.”

Leiweke said there’s a chance the name could be revealed in the fall. He cited expansion team, cited trademarking issues, local protests and the coronavirus pandemic for delays in the grand announcement. 

"If you do just one [name], then you've left yourself hostage to any sort of [trademarking] challenge," Leiweke told The Times. "So, we've had to do multiple [trademarks], and that's about where we are."

NHL Seattle had originally targeted an announcement in February or March, however, in a Twitter live in April general manager Ron Francis said he hoped the nickname choice would be made “sooner rather than later.” 

13 possible names that the NHL Seattle group registered included Sockeyes, Totems, Emeralds, Rainiers, Renegades, Kraken, Seals, Sea Lions, Evergreens, Firebirds, Cougars, Eagles and Whales. 

The pandemic has also led to a delay in the reopening of KeyArena. COVID-19 slowed down construction times, resulting in a slide of a few months in the timeline. 

“Any delay is absolutely minimal. Given what we went through the workers have kept building. But there have been issues with supply lines,” Leiweke told the Associated Press. “If it’s not going to be the date we hoped it’s not very long thereafter. And it’s impressive how they’ve actually kept things on schedule. If our target was early summer of 2021 to say we’re going to hit it sometime in the summer is pretty good considering all things."

The NHL usually gets the season rolling around early October each season, but there’s been talk that the pandemic could push the start of the league year back to November or December. 

The good news is neither setback should impact the NHL Seattle’s first puck drop in October 2021. However, Seattle’s chances of holding the NHL Draft and the expansion draft the following June are slowly dwindling. 

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