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KeyArena renovation breaks ground following NHL announcement

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan was at the KeyArena groundbreaking on Wednesday afternoon. (KIRO 7)

A day after the NHL Board of Governors officially announced its plans to bring a hockey team to Seattle in 2021, KeyArena is commencing its large-scale rebuild to accommodate that team.

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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Governor Jay Inslee, and NHL executives attended the ground-breaking ceremony for KeyArena’s remodel on Wednesday. Renovations were originally put on hold while the city awaited the NHL’s vote. Now that the Board of Governors has voted unanimously to bring an NHL team to Seattle, the ball is officially rolling for the Key’s overhaul.

“I have to say that this is a family victory for the state of Washington and Seattle — this building is intertwined with our family history,” said Governor Inslee at the ground-breaking.

“We’re breaking ground on the next generation of the Seattle Center,” said Mayor Durkan. “When this is done, it will be the best arena anywhere.”

“It’s been over 100 years since we had the Stanley Cup and it’s time to bring it home,” she added.

In total, the renovations will cost upwards of $800 million of private money, $200 million more than was originally expected after additional project upgrades were accounted for. The rebuild will leave the iconic exterior design of the Key untouched, while the bulk of the construction will encompass a complete reconstruction of virtually everything inside.

“Yes it takes more money to make the arena perfect — it will be perfect, it will be privatized, and it will be ready to host the NBA when they’re ready for us,” said Tim Leiweke, executive director of the Oak View Group.

The rebuild will include a 360-foot-long glass atrium, dedicated locker rooms for Seattle’s new NHL team, a potential NBA team, and the defending WNBA champion Seattle Storm, 50,000 square feet of storage, and a 750,000 square foot interior. Capacity for hockey games will sit up around 17,400 people, while basketball will house 18,600.

Meanwhile, construction will soon go forward as planned in Northgate for a 180,000 square foot NHL practice facility, equipped with three regulation ice rinks, locker rooms, offices for NHL operations and staff, a restaurant and bar, retail space, and more.

All in all, it’s safe to say that hockey will soon be arriving in Seattle full-bore, as appropriate facilities for an NHL team begin to take shape across the city.

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