Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke said Thursday that construction work will resume next week on the KeyArena rebuild because its roof must be put back on to its permanent support posts.
Leiweke said via text message that the $930 million project at what his company is calling the “New Arena at Seattle Center” has been temporarily halted to take additional steps during the coronavirus outbreak to ensure worker health and safety. But he expects work to resume Monday under general contractor Mortenson.
“Seattle Arena is covered as a public project and as a critical path project,” said Leiweke, whose California-based company is spearheading the rebuild with project contractor Mortenson. “We are dropping the roof back on to the permanent support, and we need to get it off the temporary support system.”
The 44 million pound roof began being partially held up by temporary posts last September and has been fully suspended by them — or “floating” as has been described — since January so crews can dig down 15 feet farther below ground and excavate outward to double the arena’s square footage. To do that, the permanent concrete-encased steel rebar posts had to be cut and left suspended in midair so crews could remove some of the 600,000 cubic yards of soil being excavated all around them.
Last month, as portions of the arena’s new foundation began being poured, some of those posts were built back up piece-by-piece and reattached to the roof. Only once all of the dozens of posts are reattached can work begin on rebuilding the arena’s walls.
NHL Seattle on Thursday afternoon, following Leiweke’s comments, put out a statement echoing what he said.
”Following Gov. Inslee’s additional guidance regarding the impact of his March 23 “Stay Home, Stay Healthy’” proclamation as it relates to construction, and, following conversations with Mayor Durkan’s office, work will continue on the New Arena at Seattle Center construction site,” the statement said. “The general contractor, Mortenson, has been diligent in implementing CDC-recommended health and safety procedures to date and will suspend work on site Thursday and Friday to take additional measures. The measures include a full clean of the site, future work planning and the creation of an additional site entrance.”
Work has also halted at NHL Seattle’s planned training facility at Northgate Mall and won’t start back up again until Inslee’s order is lifted.
“We look forward to resuming work when advised to do so,” NHL Seattle’s statement said. “Team members will continue to work on project-related planning from remote locations.”
OVG head Leiweke said his company’s arena projects in Long Island, New York, and Austin, Texas, and planned NFL stadiums in Los Angeles and Las Vegas fall under the same “critical public-private partnerships” and will also remain unaffected.
NHL Seattle and OVG are under tight time constraints where KeyArena is concerned, given the NHL franchise is set to begin play there in October 2021. They’ve for now targeted a June 1, 2021 completion date that admittedly could stretch into July — which would impact the WNBA Seattle Storm’s hopes of playing their entire 2021 season in the reopened building.
The Storm had already committed to playing two seasons in temporary facilities after the arena was closed in December 2018 for pre-demolition work to begin. They’d hope to be in KeyArena by early June 2021, though any prolonged coronavirus work stoppage would make that impossible.