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Key Arena demolition and renovation
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Report: KeyArena delays reopening, needs millions more

(Michael Simeona, KIRO Radio)

KeyArena’s grand reopening has been delayed yet again, threatening the start of the Seattle Storm’s 2021 basketball season.

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Documents obtained by The Seattle Times show construction costs have ballooned to $900 million dollars. The first price tag put renovations at $600 million dollars, with work originally scheduled to wrap up in time for the 2020 NHL season in October.

That was initially delayed 12 months by the NHL, when it became clear that it wasn’t a feasible date for the end of construction. After that, eyes were trained on the 2021 season for the debut of Seattle’s new hockey team.

The latest estimate has the renovated KeyArena opening closer to June 2021, bumping up against the May start of the Storm’s season, and just four months before the beginning of the NHL season.

Over the last two years, funding estimates have jumped almost continuously, due to skyrocketing labor and building material costs, among other factors. The price tag sat at $800 million, back when ground first broke on the renovation back in December 2018. Then it jumped to $850 million early this year.

According to the Times, CEO Tod Leiweke told a media tour group on Thursday afternoon that costs have ballooned to “between $900 (million) and $930 million.”

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

If delays cause the Storm to miss home games, the team would be reimbursed for relocation efforts. A recently-renewed lease agreement between the City and the Storm calls for the City to assume the cost of relocation due to redevelopment, up to $260,000 per game.

Even so, the City and the Oak View Group current have an agreement, that would have OVG “assume any costs should the Seattle Storm season be delayed in 2021.”

According to the Times, a new deal between NHL Seattle and OVG caps the renovation’s costs from rising any further. There are no details on whether or not the original plans for the project have been scaled back to account for delays and the need for additional funding.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated the latest price tag on the arena at $800 million, when, in fact, it increased to $850 million in early 2019. Additionally, added a statement from the City claiming that OVG would cover costs of relocation.
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