|Full name||KeyArena at Seattle Center|
|Former names||Washington State Pavilion (1962)
Washington State Coliseum (1962-1964)
Seattle Center Coliseum (1964-1994)
|Address||305 Harrison St|
|Owner||City of Seattle|
|Operator||AEG (Oak view group to future)|
15,177 (ice hockey)
|Broke ground||May 12, 1960|
|Opened||April 21, 1962|
|Renovated||1964, 1994-1995, 2018-2020 (Proposed)|
|Construction cost||US$7 million
($56.7 million in 2016 dollars)
$74.5 million (1995 renovation)
($120 million in 2016 dollars)
|Architect||Paul A. Thiry, FAIA, Architect|
|Structural engineer||Peter H. Hostmark and Associates|
|General contractor||Howard S. Wright Construction|
Seattle Redhawks (NCAA) (1963-1980, 2008-present)
Rat City Rollergirls (WFTDA) (2009-present)
The International (2014-present)
Seattle SuperSonics (NBA) (1967-1978, 1985-1994, 1995-2008)
Seattle Totems (CHL) (1974-1975)
Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) (1985-1994, 1995-2008)
Seattle SeaDogs (CISL) (1995-1997)
Washington Huskies (NCAA) (1999-2000)
KeyArena (formerly Washington State Pavilion, Washington State Coliseum and Seattle Center Coliseum) is a multi-purpose arena in Seattle. It is located north of downtown in the 74-acre (300,000 m2) entertainment complex known as Seattle Center, the site of the 1962 World's Fair, the Century 21 Exposition. It is used for entertainment purposes, such as concerts, ice shows, circuses, and sporting events.
It has a seating capacity of 17,072 for basketball games, 15,177 for ice hockey games and ice shows, 16,641 for end-stage concerts, and 17,459 for center-stage concerts and boxing. Risers hold 7,440 on the upper level and up to 7,741 on the lower level, with luxury suites adding another 1,160 seats.
The arena's current tenants are the Seattle Redhawks (Seattle University men's basketball team) and the Seattle Storm of the WNBA. The Seattle University Redhawks men's basketball team are currently the arena's longest-serving tenant, having played in the arena from 1963 to 1980 and 2009 to present.Rat City Rollergirls of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association have been a tenant since 2009. KeyArena is now the permanent home of the Pac-12 Conference's women's basketball tournament.
KeyArena was the home of the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics, WHL Seattle Totems and the WHL Seattle Thunderbirds. On July 2, 2008, the Oklahoma City-based ownership group of the SuperSonics (Professional Basketball Club LLC) reached a settlement deal with the city of Seattle, releasing the team from the last two years of their lease with the city and allowing the team to relocate to Oklahoma City for the 2008-09 NBA season. After 41 seasons in Seattle (and Tacoma), the team became the Oklahoma City Thunder and the owners agreed to leave the SuperSonics name, logo, and colors in Seattle for a possible future NBA franchise. The Thunderbirds, who had called the Seattle Center Coliseum and KeyArena home for 32 years, followed the SuperSonics out the arena at the end of 2008 for the ShoWare Center in nearby Kent.
KeyArena was the first publicly financed arena in the area to be fully supported by earned income from the building. Following the 2008 settlement with the SuperSonics after relocation to Oklahoma City, KeyArena finances were bolstered for several years by a settlement fund but the current level of activity and revenue leaves little reserve beyond basic building.
The arena opened in 1962 as the Washington State Pavilion for the Century 21 Exposition, the work of architect Paul Thiry. After the close of the Exposition the Pavilion was remodeled as the Washington State Coliseum, one of the centerpieces of the new Seattle Center (the former Exposition grounds). When the newly renovated Coliseum opened the Seattle University men's basketball team became the arena's first major tenant. The Coliseum became home to the Seattle SuperSonics beginning with their inaugural season in 1967 and remained throughout most of the team's lifetime. The Washington State Coliseum would later be renamed the Seattle Center Coliseum; operated by the City of Seattle and named after the Seattle Center grounds.
The Seattle Center Coliseum in this incarnation hosted two NBA Finals, in 1978 and 1979, both meetings putting the Washington Bullets and the Seattle SuperSonics against each other. The Bullets won the first meeting in seven games, winning game 7 in Seattle, with the Sonics retaliating the following year winning in five, this time finishing on the Bullets' home court, thus capturing the franchise's only championship to date. It was also the site of the only NBA game that was ever canceled on account of rain. On January 6, 1986 the Sonics were hosting the Phoenix Suns during a rainstorm and rain from the Coliseum roof leaked onto the court. Timeouts were called so ball boys armed with towels could do their best to wipe up the puddles, but even so, two players slipped and fell on the wet surface. Finally, during the second half, referee Mike Mathis called the game.
The arena also hosted the 1974 NBA All-Star Game on January 15, 1974, and the 1987 NBA All-Star Saturday festivities leading up to the 1987 NBA All-Star Game, where former Seattle SuperSonics star Fred "Downtown Freddie" Brown was the MVP of the Schick NBA Legends Classic, Boston Celtics star Larry Bird won the NBA 3-Point Shootout, and Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan won the Gatorade Slam-Dunk Championship on February 7, 1987.
Additionally, the arena has hosted concerts by many famous artists, spanning many different genres. On August 21, 1964 and August 25, 1966, The Beatles performed at the arena. The 1966 show was the final stage performance of their career at an enclosed indoor venue. A notable performance by Metallica was in 1989, when they were supporting the Damaged Justice Tour. Their performance at the Coliseum was one of their first large arena concerts and it was filmed for their live album, Live Shit: Binge and Purge.
The Coliseum was rebuilt between 1994 and 1995, bringing the arena up to NBA standards of the day. The local Seattle office of NBBJ, the second largest architectural firm in the country, was chosen as the architects. In an unusual move, the Coliseum would be closed for a year during the renovation. Construction began on June 16, 1994. During the 1994-95 season, the SuperSonics played their home games at the multi-purpose Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, about 30 miles (50 km) south.
On April 11, 1995, the city sold the naming rights to Cleveland-based KeyCorp, the parent of KeyBank, which renamed the Coliseum as KeyArena. The renovation cost the city of Seattle $74.5 million and the SuperSonics approximately $21 million. The naming rights cost KeyCorp $15.1 million.
The remodeled arena maintained the architectural integrity of the original roofline by using the existing steel trusses in combination with four new main diagonal trusses. The wood, steel and concrete from the demolition was either reused in construction of the new arena or sold to recyclers. The original acoustical panels, the panels attached to the roof that keep the space from echoing, were refurbished and reused. The court was lowered 35 feet (11 m) below street level to allow for 3,000 more seats. The doors opened to the newly renovated arena on October 26, 1995. The sightlines, however, benefitted the SuperSonics at the expense of the junior Thunderbirds. The floor was just barely large enough to fit a regulation rink. Many seats in the lower level were so badly obstructed that almost half the lower level was curtained off for T-Birds games. The new scoreboard was significantly off-center in the hockey configuration, hanging over one blue line instead of the center-ice faceoff circle.
The first regular season game for the SuperSonics was played on November 4, 1995, against the Los Angeles Lakers. The renovated arena hosted the 1996 NBA Finals that first season, when the SuperSonics lost to the Chicago Bulls in six games. The last SuperSonics game played there was on April 13, 2008, a 99-95 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Depeche Mode performed at the arena six times: the first show was on May 2, 1988 during the Music for the Masses Tour prior to the renovation. The second one was on November 7, 1993, during their Devotional Tour. The third was in 1998 on December 7, during their Singles Tour. The fourth one was on November 16, 2005, during their Touring the Angel. The fifth one was in 2009 on August 10, during their Tour of the Universe, in front of a crowd of 9,376 people. The sixth was October 21, 2017, during their Global Spirit tour.
The 2009 show was recorded for the group's live albums project Recording the Universe.
Once KeyArena lost the SuperSonics and the Thunderbirds, there was speculation that KeyBank may try to amend the naming rights deal. In March 2009, the city and KeyCorp signed a new deal for a two-year term ending December 31, 2010, at an annual fee of $300,000.
In 2009, the Seattle University Redhawks men's basketball team began playing their home games at KeyArena for the first time since 1980. In February 2009, the Seattle City Council approved a new 10-year lease that would keep the WNBA's Storm at KeyArena.
In 2009, the arena hosted the WWE No Way Out Pay-Per-View event. The WWE returned on March 9, 2010 to tape the March 10th episode of NXT and March 12 episode of Smackdown. They would return a year later to host the WWE Over the Limit pay-per-view on May 22, 2011. In April 2011, the Professional Bull Riders brought the Built Ford Tough Series to KeyArena for the first time.
On January 21, 2011, Seattle Center announced that KeyCorp would not renew its agreement for naming rights of the KeyArena, after 15 years of sponsorship. The venue has remained as KeyArena until a new sponsor is found.
In January 2012, ESPN.com reporter Scott Burnside said an NHL team playing in KeyArena "would be entirely acceptable", as a temporary venue for a franchise, depending on a future arena plan. The Phoenix Coyotes were often speculated to be a likely candidate for relocation and in June 2013, reports circulated that if the NHL could not negotiate a new lease for the Coyotes with the city of Glendale, Arizona by July 2, the league would sell the team to a private investment group which would then be given permission to relocate the team to Seattle prior to the 2013-2014 season and use KeyArena as a temporary home. On July 2, the city of Glendale, Arizona approved a new lease for the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena, and soon after, the NHL approved the sale of the Coyotes to an investment group that will keep the Coyotes in the Phoenix area, eliminating the possibility that the Coyotes could move to Seattle.
Conversely, in February 2012, SB Nation columnist Travis Hughes said that while it made "too much sense" for the NHL not to put a team in Seattle in the future, KeyArena was completely unsuitable even as a temporary facility due to the same problems with sight lines that ultimately forced the Thunderbirds to move out. Hughes wrote that even one year of NHL hockey in an arena where half the lower bowl sat unused would be "just unacceptable." He argued that the situation would be even worse than what the Coyotes faced at America West Arena, their original home in Phoenix. When the Coyotes played there from 1996 to 2003, they had to deal with seats where part of the ice could not be seen at all, forcing them to curtain off several thousand seats in the upper level.
League officials have hinted that a new arena would have to be in place before a new or relocated NHL team came to Seattle. During the 2012 All-Star Weekend, Bettman said that while Seattle was a good fit for the NHL, "there's no building." Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that KeyArena would be "a difficult arena for hockey" due to the large number of obstructed-view seats.
In July 2012, at a public town hall meeting debating Chris Hansen's proposed NBA/NHL arena in downtown Seattle, anti-arena proponents wanted to "re-explore" using KeyArena instead of the proposed site downtown. The environmental reviews required for the building approval are, as of February 2013, exploring alternate sites that include the KeyArena site and the nearby Memorial Stadium site in addition to Mr. Hansen's preferred site near the Mariners' Safeco Field parking garage.
In December 2013, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis became the first Seattle-based act ever to play three consecutive sold-out shows at the KeyArena when the duo concluded their 2013 World Tour in support of their album The Heist.
Starting in 2014, American video game developer Valve Corporation began hosting The International Dota 2 eSports tournaments at the venue, which have since featured prize pools of over US$20 million.
The seating capacity for basketball has gone as followed:
In late 2004, proposals for expanding KeyArena to nearly twice its current size to accommodate new restaurants, shops, and a practice court (the cost was estimated at $220 million) were debated. These proposals never came to fruition and were cited by current and former SuperSonics' owners as a reason KeyArena is no longer viable.
Prior to the SuperSonics relocating to Oklahoma City, NBA commissioner David Stern favored and agreed with owner Clay Bennett that KeyArena was not adequate enough for an NBA venue. Fans of the SuperSonics support group Save Our Sonics exposed Stern's hypocrisy and presented tapes of him years before when KeyArena reopened after renovations showing Stern approving and complimenting the arena himself.
In October 2016, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced that the city would seek proposals to redevelop KeyArena into an NBA and NHL ready venue, issuing a full request for proposal in January. This came after the rejection of the new arena proposed in SoDo by the Seattle City Council over the street vacation of Occidental Avenue.
Two groups, Seattle Partners (led by AEG and Hudson Pacific Properties) and the Oak View Group (led by former AEG CEO Tim Leiweke), submitted proposals to the city in April 2017 to redevelop the arena, also securing corporate partnerships and seeking the support of the NHL. Both groups were required to submit an additional proposal to preserve the arena's iconic roof, which the city planned to submit for municipal landmark status. AEG unveiled a $520 million proposal that would extend the iconic roofline over presently underutilized space on the arena's south end. Oak View Group submitted a $564 million proposal that would lower the arena's bowl 15 feet within the existing roof structure.