KeyArena has been completely gutted beneath its 44-million-pound roof, which is currently being held up by dozens of steel supports ahead of a planned rebuild to double its square footage.
That was the takeaway from a Monday media tour of the facility, which the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group (OVG) is rebuilding for a current price tag of $930 million ahead of the October 2021 arrival of a National Hockey League expansion franchise. Construction officials said the project is still on track for a “summer 2021’’ completion but will not be more specific until next year.
“We’re going to set that in early spring,’’ OVG construction executive Ken Johnsen told reporters after the tour. “You just walked through that building with us. There’s work to be done to get all the way down to the bottom. Once in early spring we see where we are and everything’s on-track with that we can set a target date.’’
The building would need to be ready by June 2021 for the Seattle Storm to begin their regular season there on time and also to play host to the NHL draft. The league is prepared to wait until next June to make a final call on that.
The interior grandstands within the arena as well as adjacent smaller buildings have now been demolished as crews continue pushing back several tons of dirt ahead of further excavation. The plan is to dig an additional 15 feet below the current arena floor — roughly 60 feet below street level — and then spread the base of the arena wider to encompass more than 800,000 square feet.
For now, the 44-million-pound roof is being held up by a series of temporary steel support beams along the outer rim and a larger steel shoring beam directly in its center. All told, about half the 72 support beams needed for the project are currently in place while the remainder are expected to be in by year’s end.
The beams are nearly completed on the north side of the building, meaning excavation can start there shortly. Once all of the beams are in, the remaining dig work can take place.
“By Christmas, we’ll be standing 60 feet below here pouring our first foundation,’’ said Greg Huber, project executive for Mortenson, which is serving as general contractor on the rebuild.
Huber said the steel support beams alone will tally 4,500 tons, which is more than all the steel Mortenson used to build the Allianz Field soccer stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Mortenson took over the project from Skanska Hunt earlier this year as OVG sought maximum price guarantees to prevent further cost overruns on the privately-financed project. Initially pegged at just under $600 million when OVG was awarded the renovation contract by the City of Seattle, the price soared beyond $900 million earlier this spring due to planned upgrades and rising materials costs.
Taxpayers are not on-the-hook for any of the construction costs. Johnsen said the project remains on-pace for the $930 million amount OVG and NHL Seattle made public last April.