KeyArena has a history of being renovated to to meet new needs of the city.
This afternoon begins the newest renovation of KeyArena as officials from the National Hockey League and Oak View Group plan to break ground for a new hockey team to play there in the 2021-22 season.
This construction will preserve the building’s iconic roof while expanding its seating capacity and square footage.
KeyArena has been through many renovations in its 56 years.
The building hosted an exhibit called the “World of Tomorrow” and the infamous Bubbleator. (That spherical elevator was moved after the fair to the Armory building, scene of the Food Circus). It was planned from the start to be converted to a 15,000-seat sports arena after the fair, according to a Seattle Times story the day of the groundbreaking. The pavilion was designed by architect Paul Thiry.
After the fair, Seattle renovated the arena and it was renamed the Seattle Center Coliseum, commonly called the Coliseum. Renovations were made so the venue could host events, concerts and sports. The initial renovation made the Coliseum able to easily convert from an ice arena to a basketball court.
Shortly after the the renovations, the Coliseum would become a venue for concerts and sports.
In 1963, a Seattle Daily Times story reported that the roof had developed a pair of leaks, foreshadowing future problems.
On Aug. 21, 1964, the Beatles performed at the Coliseum for 14,000 screaming fans. The band would come back in 1966.
The Seattle SuperSonics had their first home game at the Coliseum on Oct. 20, 1967. The Sonics lost to fellow expansion team the San Diego Rockets, 114-121.
Roof leaks at the Coliseum on Jan. 5, 1986, caused the first-ever NBA rain-out. The leaks were temporarily fixed with a tarp on the roof, according to a Seattle Times article headlined “ROOF REIGNS IN FIRST NBA ‘RAINOUT’ – SUNS WILL LEAD BY 11 WHEN PLAY RESUMES.” Kathy Scanlan, deputy director of the Seattle Center, told the Times that roof had been resealed and said, “Essentially, it’s like a new roof.”
By June 1994, renovation work started on the Coliseum after the Sonics signed a 15-year lease in exchange for the city of Seattle issuing 20-year bonds to pay for the $100 million, 16-month renovation.
The building reopened as KeyArena on Oct. 26, 1995, with a concert featuring tenor Jose Carreras and the Seattle Symphony, with an audience of 14,000.
On June 1, 2000, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm played their first home game at KeyArena.
The Sonics played their last game in front of a Seattle crowd on April 13, 2008, after the team was sold to a group of Oklahoma City businessmen.
In 2017, the city of Seattle requested new proposals for the redevelopment of KeyArena. Demolition of the current interior would begin once Seattle was awarded a hockey team by the NHL Board of Governors.
The future name of KeyArena is uncertain, but the latest renderings show what the new look might be.