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Officials: $1B WA Arena Set to Make Opening Deadline

Monday, July 19, 2021

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Despite battling material delays for the last pieces of construction, officials for Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena report that the $1 billion project is on track to open by its revised completion date in mid-October.

During a media tour last week, Mortenson Construction executive Greg Huber told reporters that that the arena is on track for completion in mid-September, which gives time for testing before the structure opens to the public.

The arena will be the immediate home to the National Hockey League’s latest expansion team, the Seattle Kraken, and the 2021-22 season schedule is slated to be announced in the coming weeks. Reports hint that the Kraken will play the first several games on the road to give construction officials the last bit of wiggle room possible.

Right now, seats are being installed, but a retractable platform that’s necessary to turn the venue from hockey to entertainment has been delayed considerably from Slovakia.

“Material procurement and fabrication tracking has never been more difficult than it has right now. We’ve got more people here on our staff that can track a boat from here to Slovakia to Malaysia to China to wherever it is, and it has been an all-in effort,” said Huber.


Despite battling material delays for the last pieces of construction, officials for Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena report that the $1 billion project is on track to open by its revised completion date in mid-October.

“The things you used to be able to count on to get in a week or two weeks or even six weeks, now you can’t even get it. So, we’ve had to pivot.”

Oak View Group officials added, though, that even if an additional delay comes up, all portions of the arena that are in public view should be done in this two-month timeframe.

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.

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 2020, 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, 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.

August of last year is when the climate proposal and the Amazon deal was announced as the arena renovation went into “full building mode” following the completion of the floor and excavation.

Later, in October, officials went on record to say that despite a month-long delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the arena work was still operating on schedule.

At the beginning of the year, Leiweke confirmed some additions as well as confirmed that OKG submitted the project’s registration to the International Living Future Institute, a move needed to become the first arena to be Zero Carbon certified.

While the arena has retained its original, historically registered roof and exterior glass, many other changes are taking place to get the arena zero carbon ready, such as:

  • All natural gas implements have been removed from the site and are being replaced with electric substations;
  • A rainwater storage tank has been added that will recycle water and use it for operations such as ice making;
  • Solar panels are being added to the iconic roof, which is being overseen by various historical commissions; and
  • For every event, operators will track trips (such as whether a family arrived by venue or bus) so that it can pay for carbon offsets to keep the venue 100% carbon neutral.

The project officially surpassed the $1 billion price tag in May when officials confirmed that the costs for the venue itself have risen to $1.05 billion—in addition to an adjacent parking garage at $75 million and another $25 million in signage and other work, bringing the new grand total to $1.15 billion.


Tagged categories: Commercial Construction; Good Technical Practice; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Stadiums/Sports Facilities

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