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KeyArena Groundbreaking Ceremony Launches Major Renovation

KeyArena renovation Oak View Group hockey

Seattle’s KeyArena took a significant step toward its upcoming overhaul on Wednesday, when officials kicked off construction with a groundbreaking ceremony

As part of a project led and financed by the Oak View Group, KeyArena will undergo a major overhaul to meet modern NBA and NHL standards. The construction process calls for leaving the arena’s distinguished roof line intact, while digging down to create more interior space and modern facilities.

The NHL officially approved Seattle’s expansion bid on Tuesday, so officials gathered Wednesday for the KeyArena groundbreaking ceremony. Under the current timeline, the overhauled arena is expected to reopen in the spring of 2021–months ahead of the start of the Seattle NHL expansion squad’s inaugural 2021-22 season. More from The Seattle Times:

That’s a simplified version of the plan that started with Tuesday’s awarding of a new NHL expansion franchise in Seattle and continued Wednesday with a KeyArena renovation groundbreaking ceremony. Speakers at the Seattle Center ceremony included Mayor Jenny Durkan, Tod Leiweke, Seattle Hockey Partners President and CEO; and Tim Leiweke, Oak View Group CEO.

This construction, which will cost $800 million, NHL Seattle owner Tod Leiweke said Tuesday, will preserve the building’s iconic roof while expanding its seating capacity and square footage.

The planned seating capacity will jump by several hundred to 17,400 for NHL and 18,600 for NBA, while the venue will contain separate permanent locker rooms for teams in both leagues and the WNBA’s Storm. The project will dig an additional 15 feet — 58 feet total — below the arena’s current floor and expand the walls further outward below its existing roof to maximize the square footage.

The newly renovated arena is slated to open by March or April of 2021, with the NHL team starting play in October of that year.

Once it reopens, the renovated venue’s slate of events will include home games for the WNBA’s Storm and the NHL expansion squad. The KeyArena project is also expected to spur more discussions of Seattle obtaining its first NBA franchise since the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008, but any plans will likely take plenty of time to emerge, as the NBA has not announced expansion and for now lacks a serious relocation candidate.

The structure itself has a unique history, first opening in 1962 as the Washington State Pavilion for the Seattle’s World Fair before undergoing multiple renovations along the way. Our own Jesse Goldberg-Strassler has written a more detailed look at the arena’s history.

Rendering courtesy Oak View Group.

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