As demolition continues around Northgate Mall, representatives from NHL Seattle met with shoppers and nearby community members Tuesday and assured them better things lie ahead.
In a late-afternoon open house adjacent to the mall’s food court, the group set up informational booths and displayed new artistic renderings of the planned 180,000-square-foot Northgate Ice Center that will serve as the NHL team’s headquarters and training center. Groundbreaking on the facility, now expected to top $85 million, is to begin next February and be completed by June 2021.
“We want to connect with the community and tell them about all of the things that are going to be happening here,’’ said Kyle Boyd, NHL Seattle’s director of youth and community development/training. “The three sheets of ice, our youth hockey programs, our Learn to Skate programs. There are going to be a bunch of things going on here that everybody can participate in once our doors open.’’
The biggest for the community – at least, the hockey-playing community – might be the three regulation ice surfaces. The largest of those, surrounded by 1,000 seats, will be the main practice rink for the NHL team but will otherwise be available to community use as will the two remaining ice surfaces.
Some of those community events outlined by NHL Seattle at the open house include curling and figure skating, as well as special-themed open skating hours, birthday parties and corporate events. The facility will house about 200 NHL Seattle employees as well.
The facility is being designed by Kansas City-based Generator Studio, which helped build the recently-opened St. Louis Blues practice facility in Maryland Heights, Mo. Thousands of fans flocked to the opening of that venue last month during a pair of weekend Blues training-camp practices.
Blues officials have hailed the venue as a potential game-changer in terms of luring free agents to St. Louis, given its state-of-the-art training facilities. NHL Seattle plans similar high-end training at its complex, and representatives of team sponsor Virginia Mason were on hand Tuesday to outline details of a planned regional medical clinic on-site for the team, players and community.
“This facility will be one of a kind, not only for our team but also for the community,’’ NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke said in a release. “We will grow the game of hockey here and provide a gathering place for the ice-sports community and the people of Northgate.’’
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan was one of the politicians on hand at the open house, as were Seattle city councilmember Debora Juarez and state Rep. Javier Valdez (D-Seattle) – who represent the district where the facility is to be located. State Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-Seattle), who grew up a lifelong hockey fan in Los Angeles, was also at the event and announced he’s taken on a role with NHL Seattle as a community ambassador and director of suites services.
Pettigrew becomes the second politician to join the team, following the January hiring of outgoing city councilmember Rob Johnson as a vice president of transportation.