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$930M WA Arena to Still Open on Time

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

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Officials from Seattle’s $930 million Climate Pledge Arena have recently went on record to say that, despite a month-long delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the arena should be set to open on time, in fall 2021.

“We’re going to be done certainly by the puck drop," said Ken Johnsen, project lead. "Late summer, early fall, but we’ll be ready. This is going to be most beautiful arena in the world. I think a lot of that is the scale, the iconic roof, the glass."

In addition to the stadium itself, part of the project includes eight loading docks (compared to the previous Key Arena’s two) as well as a 160-foot, two-lane access tunnel underneath the structure.

Other plans have also been influenced by the pandemic, including designing the arena with hygiene, cleanliness and comfort in mind.

Most recently, at the beginning of August, officials said construction was in full “building mode” as crews had finished the excavation and roof support process. A list of sustainability goals for the structure were also released by officials at the time.

Project Background

The Seattle City Council took the final step in green-lighting the redevelopment of the historic KeyArena in September 2018, unanimously approving the deal with The Seattle Arena Company, or ArenaCo, which included Oak View Group. Oak View at the time tapped the joint venture of Skanska and AECOM Hunt as the general contractor of the project, with Populous as the architect and CAA ICON as project manager.


Officials from Seattle’s $930 million Climate Pledge Arena have recently went on record to say that, despite a month-long delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the arena should be set to open on time, in fall 2021.

For the project, all updates to the structure will be done without touching the arena’s famous roofline. Since the arena is a designated historic building, four supporting pylons will first be installed so that the entire interior can be redone. The playing floor will reportedly drop 15 feet, to 58 feet below grade, allowing playing lines for hockey and basketball to line up.

An additional 50,000 square feet will be added for more storage and premium club space, which will offer views of the Space Needle. The capacity for the venue will be expanded to 17,400 for NHL games at 18,600 for NBA, meaning the building’s area will grow to 750,000 square feet.

The new arena will be home to Seattle’s WNBA team the Seattle Storm, with fingers crossed for an NHL team and eventually an NBA team as well.

Originally, the project was supposed to be completed in time for the 2020-21 NHL season with a price tag of $600 million, both of which have been pushed incrementally since the project’s inception.

In August 2018 (before final approval), OVG pointed to steel and aluminum tariffs as part of the reason for the rising price. The cost hikes were also partly to blame for the replacement of general contractor JV Skanska and AECOM, which was swapped for Mortenson Construction less than a week after the groundbreaking at the end of 2018.

In May 2019, the budget was updated to the $930 million price tag with an opening date of June 2021.

In January of this year, the roof entered its “floating phase,” when it was suspended by the temporary structure of 72 steel columns. New foundation was also poured at that time.

In May of this year, exterior wall work began as the project was able to remain unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, the arena floor was complete—53 feet below ground, about 15 feet deeper than the original floor—giving the space its new square footage of just over 800,000.


Tagged categories: Maintenance + Renovation; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Renovation; Stadiums/Sports Facilities

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