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KeyArena Gutted, With 44M-Pound Roof Held Up By Steel Beams

The KeyArena is on track to open in the summer of 2021 with a brand-new interior, 800K SF and the same iconic roof it had when it was built for Seattle’s World Fair in 1962. Bisnow took a sneak peek at the project on Monday.

KeyArena Gutted, With 44M-Pound Roof Held Up By Steel Beams
KeyArena's 44 million-pound roof is being held up by temporary beams while the space underneath is being gutted.

With most of the interior demolition work complete, the 44 million-pound original ceiling hovers above the building’s dirt floor held in place by dozens of steel beams.

Crews still need to dig 15 feet deeper into the floor before pouring the foundation, which will sit at 60 feet below street level. The renovation will double the square footage of the original building, growing from 400K to 800K SF. Additional square feet will be added by deepening and widening the building’s base.

Oak View Group Vice President for Construction Ken Johnsen and Mortenson’s Project Executive Greg Huber led a media tour Monday featuring the work complete so far.

There are 120 people currently working on the site and that number will likely hit 1,000 by next year, Johnsen said. Though construction is on track, executives are waiting to set an official delivery date until next spring.

If construction finishes by June 2021, the Seattle Storm will be able to begin season play in the new $960M facility. The construction is expected to be done in time for Seattle’s NHL expansion team’s season start in October 2021. 

The cost of the project has swelled since OVG originally won the renovation contract for an estimated $600M. The price tag now sits at $930M due, in part, to rising construction and material costs. The project is being financed by Los Angeles-based OVG and its partners through a development and lease contract with the city of Seattle. It will include shoring and excavation, an access tunnel and loading dock and landscape improvements.

CORRECTION, SEPT. 25, 8:32 A.M. PT: An earlier version of the story had an incorrect figure in the headline. It has been updated. 

KeyArena Gutted, With 44M-Pound Roof Held Up By Steel Beams
KeyArena renovation and construction is on schedule to open in 2021.

The building will have a 17,400-person capacity for hockey and 18,600-person capacity for WNBA games, with the arena expected to host more than 140 events per year. Mortenson took over as general contractor from Skanska-Hunt late last year, when the companies said the decision was due to market challenges and timing changes.

The KeyArena renovation plans played a role in the city of Seattle securing an NHL expansion team. Team owners had hoped to begin play in 2020-21, but the NHL decided to wait a year before launching the team due to uncertainties over the arena’s completion date.

The NHL Seattle organization is also in the process of constructing a three-rink ice skating facility at the Northgate Mall that will serve as the team’s training facility. The 180K SF project will cost about $70M to construct and seat 1,000 spectators and will also be available to the public and youth sports groups.

The Seattle NHL expansion team’s name could be announced at the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game in late January, according to a report by NHL.com. Ron Francis was named general manager of the team on July 18, and Tod Leiweke remains CEO and team president.