Report: Renovated Seattle arena opening delayed to late summer 2021

The massive roof of KeyArena is seen sitting atop temporary pillars during a renovation of the arena into a much larger facility for the city's new NHL team, March 27, 2020, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

The renovation of the New Arena at Seattle Center, the future home of the NHL’s 32nd team and the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, will take longer than originally planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Seattle Times.

The original target to re-open the arena was June 2021. Now, NHL Seattle team CEO Tod Leiweke says the project won’t be completed until late August or early September of that year.

“We early on had some aspirations, but there’s no question the supply lines and other challenges have brought some delay,” Leiweke said, according to The Times. “But I am so appreciative of the men and women who strap it on every day — including a face mask — and come here and build this. And they’re building it with great pride.”

Construction on the arena has continued during the pandemic, but progress has been slowed by challenges with suppliers and expanded safety measures implemented on-site. The extended renovation shouldn’t impact the NHL’s Seattle franchise from debuting in 2021-22 (which could also be delayed in the aftermath of the pandemic) but the Storm will likely needed to find a temporary home in the summer of 2021.

“It will certainly be the summer of 2021 — the question is when,” Leiweke said. “Will it be August? Will it be Sept. 1? Will it be Sept. 15? It’s somewhere in there.”

The $930-million privately-funded renovation of the former KeyBank Arena, located just blocks from the Space Needle, began in December 2018. The roof of the arena has historical landmark status, so it has been suspended above the site while an entirely new arena is built below. The project is being funded by Oak View Group, which will also own the NHL’s Seattle franchise and counts movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer and billionaire David Bonderman among its investors.

Leiweke also provided a brief update on the NHL Seattle team’s nickname, saying the group has been designing and attempting to trademark multiple names and team colours.

“If you do just one (name), then you’ve left yourself hostage to any sort of challenge,” he said. “So we’ve had to do multiple (trade)marks, and that’s about where we are.”

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