Kraken-Starbucks smell the community ‘coffee’


Seattle Kraken training center naming rights Image: Seattle Kraken

A multiyear partnership was announced recently between the coffeehouse company Starbucks and the National Hockey League (NHL) team Seattle Kraken (US) which saw the coffee giant help pick the name of the team’s planned $80-million Northgate Mall training center, which will now be called the Kraken Community Iceplex.

‘The Seattle Times’ stated that the community-themed deal did not include naming rights, but Starbucks did work with the team to pick the name from a list of options. The deal will see Starbucks open a community store within the Northgate facility, with a percentage of profits going to the team’s One Roof Foundation and other local nonprofits.

Starbucks Corporation is an American multinational chain of coffeehouses and roastery reserves headquartered in Seattle, Washington (US). As the world’s largest coffeehouse chain, Starbucks is seen to be the main representation of the United States’ second wave of coffee culture.

The Seattle Kraken is a professional ice hockey expansion team based in Seattle (US). The Kraken will compete in the National Hockey League (NHL) as a member of the Pacific Division in the Western Conference, beginning with the league’s 2021-2022 seasons. The NHL regular season will commence on September 8th, 2021 and will end on April 17th, 2022.

The 17,459-capacity Climate Pledge Arena is a multipurpose arena in the Northwest United States in Seattle. It is located North of downtown in the 74-acre entertainment complex known as Seattle Center, the site of the 1962 World’s Fair.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson noted, “Starbucks has tremendous pride in our hometown, and we are honored to work with an organization like the Seattle Kraken which shares our values. The people in our City represent the very best of us, and working together, we’re committed to strengthening the Seattle community, celebrating our neighbors and building a lasting partnership that uplifts the lives of people and families across the Puget Sound.”

Puget Sound is a sound of the Pacific Northwest, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, and part of the Salish Sea. The term ‘Puget Sound’ is used not just for the body of water but also the Puget Sound region centered on the sound. Major Cities on the sound include Seattle.

‘The Seattle Times’ further stated that Starbucks presently operates 20 community stores nationwide, which work to provide opportunities to people from underserved communities by hiring locally, partnering with nonprofits, providing space for events and programs, and working with the local artistes.

The agreement entered into will see Starbucks and the Kraken undertake what they termed “key investments” and work with local nonprofits – including the One Roof Foundation, Black Girl Hockey Club, YouthCare, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and Washington Wild – to address access to resources and opportunities for youth, particularly girls and people of color. Starbucks will establish an ongoing Puck Drop Grant, awarding an initial $50,000 to Seattle-based Youth Care for its work with homeless teenagers and young adults.

One Roof Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of the Seattle Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena’s commitment to its community. The Roof has long symbolized safety, security and shelter, and for the Krakens it also represents both their organizational beginnings as well as where they aspire to go.

The Black Girl Hockey Club is a North American nonprofit organization that advocates for Black women in ice hockey.

YouthCare works to end youth homelessness and to ensure that young people are valued for who they are and empowered to achieve their potential.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a national organization of local chapters which provide voluntary after-school programs for young people.

Washington Wild is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect and restore wild lands and waters in Washington State through advocacy.

Starbucks also will be the exclusive coffee served at both the Iceplex and the team’s main arena. The three-rink training center is set to partially open for the team next month and then fully to the public by mid-September, while the main arena is scheduled to open its gates by October this year.

The Iceplex will serve as the Kraken corporate headquarters, with the main ice rink holding up to 1,000 spectators and used by the team for daily practices. The two additional ice surfaces – and the main one when the Kraken isn’t practicing – are for local ice hockey leagues, tournaments, public skating, figure skating, and other activities.

Suzanne Sullivan, YouthCare’s Chief Advancement Officer, maintained, “We are so excited that Starbucks and the Kraken, two impact-driven community leaders, are joining forces to help expand access to resources and opportunities to Seattle-area youth. We look forward to building this partnership together to transform the lives of young people experiencing homelessness through employment, education and community programs, for years to come.”

One Roof Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Kraken and its Oak View Group partners developing Climate Pledge Arena, has made youth homelessness one of three key areas it plans to target – along with improving youth access to hockey and promoting environmental justice. The Foundation has embarked on a 10-year partnership with YouthCare to help supply jobs and training for those using its services, in addition to a $10-million financial commitment over the duration of that timespan.

Mari Horita, Kraken’s Vice-President, Community Engagement and Social Impact, who is also One Roof’s Executive Director, said the Foundation’s goal is to be more than a “third-party funder” for nonprofit groups. That means, she said, actively trying to implement change through partnerships and action rather than simply writing checks – “At this moment in time, in our country, we’re at a sea change. And as we emerge from events of the past year, I believe there’s a largely shared understanding that we need to go back and do things a little bit differently. And we need to do it in a way that’s better and a way that includes everybody.”

Another component of the Starbucks deal will see 100 community members – including first-responders, nonprofit workers, educators, and other community figures – invited to every Kraken home game.

Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke concluded by asserting, “Since inception, the Seattle Kraken have been committed to the greater Seattle community, and there is no better partner to amplify this commitment than Starbucks. We are proud to join forces with such a like-minded change agent, and we both agree that collectively we will make a lasting impact on our region.”

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