KeyArena Costs To Exceed $900M, Opening Date Pushed Back
The KeyArena renovation will exceed $900M and the targeted re-opening has been "delayed several months," pushing up against the start of the '21 WNBA season, according to a front-page piece by Geoff Baker of the SEATTLE TIMES. NHL Seattle President & CEO Tod Leiweke confirmed costs have grown to $900-930M but indicated that the project "should be delivered" by the summer of '21. He said, "The project is definitely costing more than we thought, it's taking a little bit longer." He added that developers "won't skimp on the additional upgrades that have sent costs soaring." Baker notes the '21 WNBA season will begin in late May and teams in situations similar to the Storm can "cover such arena construction delays by having their season start on the road." However, city taxpayers "could be on the hook" for an additional $260,000 per '21 home game missed by the Storm "due to relocation." Storm President & CEO Alisha Valavanis said she is in "close contact and communication" with Leiweke on the estimated opening date. Leiweke said that he and the Oak View Group are "working to get the Storm back into the building on time." OVG construction exec Ken Johnsen during a tour of the facility on Thursday indicated that "various construction complexities" are why the budget has grown from $600M and why the original October '20 completion date will not be reached (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/19).
WANTING TO HOST BOTH DRAFTS: Leiweke said that contractor Mortensen "has been provided with incentives" to have KeyArena ready by June 1, 2021, in the hopes it can hold both the expansion draft for Seattle's NHL team, the '21 NHL Draft and a full home schedule for the Storm. Leiweke: "We have had discussions with the NHL, they're open to that idea, where we would host not only the expansion draft in the building but the full league draft. That would be a heck of a way to start a franchise." Johnsen said that OVG "should have a more detailed construction timeline by next spring" (AP, 4/18).