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KeyArena Project Cost Estimate Rises, Completion Pushed Back

KeyArena renovation Oak View Group 2

Oak View Group‘s KeyArena project cost estimate is now $900 million-plus, and its completion has been bumped back to at least June 1, 2021.

Work began late last year on Oak View Group’s privately financed construction at KeyArena, which will result in the preservation of the facility’s distinguished roof line while construction crews dig down 15 feet to create more interior space and modern facilities. The finished product will be designed to modern NBA and NHL standards, with an NHL expansion team and the WNBA’s Seattle Storm set to use the facility.

When ground was broken in December, project officials hoped that construction would be completed in the spring of 2021–in time for the Storm’s season, and well ahead of the 2021-22 NHL slate. However, it was confirmed by NHL Seattle president and CEO Tod Leiweke during a construction tour on Thursday that the construction schedule now calls for a completion by the summer of 2021. In addition, the cost estimate has risen to the $900 million-$930 million range, up from the $850 million floated earlier this year and well above the initial $600 million estimate.

The updated timeline would not have scheduling implications for the NHL expansion franchise, and the Storm is hopeful that the summer 2021 completion can be achieved. More from the Seattle Times:

Leiweke, after helping lead the tour through an arena rapidly becoming hollowed out, admitted costs have escalated to “between $900 (million) and $930 million” and that “the schedule has slipped a bit” but the project should be delivered by the summer of 2021.

“The project is definitely costing more than we thought, it’s taking a little bit longer, but it’s with great satisfaction that we’re here today saying ‘We are building something special,”’ Leiweke said after the tour, speaking from inside a new preview center across from the arena site where suites sales have begun taking place. “We’ve solved the Rubik’s Cube that was decades in the making in this community. There is so much good going on. This city deserves a world-class arena and they are about to get it.”

While sports leagues can buy teams a few weeks to cover such arena construction delays by having their season start on the road, anything beyond that means OVG would be on the hook for an additional $260,000 per 2021 home game missed by the Storm due to relocation….

Storm President and CEO Alisha Valavanis said Thursday she had been “in close contact and communication” with Leiweke on the estimated June 1, 2021 closing date. Valavanis said she’s already been told by the WNBA the 2021 schedule will start before June 1 — meaning the Storm would open on the road for at least a game or two — but then has been assured NHL Seattle and OVG are committed to having their upgraded home facility fully ready.

The construction taking place is certainly complex, given the scope of the project. A few factors have reportedly contributed to the increasing cost estimate, including rising prices for construction materials and labor in the Seattle area, and upgrades to earlier plans implemented by project officials. Under the current plans, the arena will feature a seating capacity of 17,300 for hockey and 18,600 for the NBA.

Rendering courtesy Oak View Group.

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