Team on its way, arena construction now begins in Seattle

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By TIM BOOTH (AP Sports Writer)

SEATTLE (AP) — The celebration outside the building Seattle’s NHL team will eventually call home Wednesday came with all the formality of a groundbreaking event with the principals taking turns giving remarks and ceremonially shoveling dirt.

It also came with a new price tag even higher than what was stated a day earlier when Seattle was awarded the NHL’s 32nd franchise.

The cost now is $850 million for the new arena at Seattle Center, according to Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke, with construction expected to get started almost immediately. That’s an increase of $200 million from the initial projections for the privately financed project, but the principals involved believe the increased investment is part of making the new building one of the top arenas in the country.

”We never value engineered. That to me was an amazing commitment on behalf of ownership,” Leiweke said. ”We did not do any value ownership on this project. Everything we dreamed about and more we have kept in this building and will write the check.”

The ceremonial event – complete with heavy construction equipment sitting nearby the stage waiting – concluded a whirlwind 36 hours for hockey fans in the region. While it seemed a foregone conclusion, the unanimous vote from the NHL Board of Governors on Tuesday ended a lengthy dance between the league and the city and solved Seattle’s winter sports void created when the SuperSonics departed in 2008.

The franchise will begin with the 2021-22 season after the league and ownership group decided not to risk an already tight arena construction schedule. Rather than having the franchise start for the 2020 season with the potential of delays possibly creating adverse conditions for the new team, the launch was delayed by a year.

That does provide a cushion in the construction timeline, but it’s not a complete year. Leiweke noted the start of the hockey franchise will be pushed back a year to October 2021, the extra time on getting the arena finished is only a few months. The goal is to have the building open by March or April of 2021 so that the WNBA Seattle Storm can play the 2021 season in the building and other events can be scheduled to start recouping the investment on the project.

Tod Lewieke, the CEO and president of NHL Seattle, said the additional time should allow the team to have its three-rink practice facility completed in time for the team’s first training camp in 2021. The team also intends to have its expansion draft in the new arena in the summer of 2021.

And the extended time frame should reduce some of the construction disruptions in a neighborhood that is dense with condos and apartments.

”We’ve always wanted to build in a very responsible way so we’re going got have a little more time to do that,” Tod Leiweke said.

By the time the entirety of all the projects and investments in the franchise is realized with the team’s first game – arena, expansion fee, practice facility and other costs – bringing the franchise to Seattle could end up running in the neighborhood of $2 billion.

”This marketplace is brilliant,” Tim Leiweke said. ”This marketplace is the fastest growing marketplace in North America. So it demands brilliance and we’re going to answer it so we make sure we don’t sit here five years after it opens and say ‘we could have done better.’ We’re going to be great day one and that’s what Seattle deserves.”

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

KeyArena renovation to cost more than originally expected

Populous
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SEATTLE (AP) — Renovating KeyArena will cost $100 million more than previously expected as project leaders attempt to make it fully ready for an expected NHL franchise and possibly a future NBA team.

Oak View Group announced Tuesday it had selected Skanska and AECOM Hunt to partner together as the general contractor for the $700 million project.

The project was originally expected to cost $600 million, but Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke said costs increased for several reasons, including putting in permanent locker rooms for the expected NHL franchise, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm and a permanent locker room for a potential NBA franchise.

Leiweke said there was also an additional 50,000 square feet added for storage and a premium club space was added at the top of the building with a view of the Space Needle.

”That building you see today is not the building we designed a year ago,” Leiweke said, pointing at a rendering of the new arena. ”We wanted the NBA and the NHL to be able to come into this building and do a couple of things … we wanted capacity that would ultimately make sure we meet standards the NBA and NHL expect us to hit but we wanted amenities that allowed the NHL and NBA to be top third within both of the leagues as to the revenue they could generate to make the building work for both the NHL and NBA.”

The project remains on track for construction to begin this fall with an ambitious timeline of having it completed by fall 2020, in time for an NHL franchise to begin that season. The final event scheduled for the arena is an NBA preseason game between the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings on Oct. 5, with the building being turned over to OVG shortly thereafter.

That timeline is subject to final approvals by the city of Seattle. It may also fall in line with the approvals for an expansion NHL franchise, which could come from the league sometime in the fall.

”We get to tell our story to the NHL this fall and I’m an optimist,” said Tod Leiweke, president and CEO of Seattle’s prospective hockey franchise.

As part of Tuesday’s announcement, the team in charge of the renovation unveiled some of the ways construction will be done. The new building will have a capacity of 17,400 for hockey and 18,600 for basketball.

The project is somewhat limited because the KeyArena roof has received historical landmark status and cannot be touched during construction.

Project managers unveiled designs for the revamped building Tuesday and showed how new supports will be constructed that allow the entire arena to be gutted and rebuilt without the roof being impacted. The construction plan calls for the floor of the building to be dropped 15 feet from its current depth and expanded outward to create the amount of square footage needed to construct a modern arena with all the needed amenities.

Tim Romani, CEO of CAA ICON, the project manager for the arena redevelopment, said the fact that an entirely new arena is being built underneath the roof raises costs but also makes the process more straightforward than if they were trying to save parts of the existing building aside from the roof.

”It’s complicated, but it’s simpler when we’re not trying to keep other pieces,” Romani said.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

New arena plans in Seattle remain on schedule

Oak View Group
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SEATTLE (AP) — The aggressive timeline for the renovation of Seattle’s KeyArena remains on schedule with the hope of breaking ground on construction by the end of the year.

Steve Mattson, director of operations for Oak View Group, said Monday that the goal remains to have approval to take control of the arena at Seattle Center by late fall and begin the construction process before the end of 2018.

”Every day we move them along a little bit and we feel really good about where we’re at right now,” Mattson said.

Oak View Group released new renderings of the remodeled arena on Monday, beginning a busy week for the group that is looking to bring the NHL to Seattle for the 2020 season. The group has formally filed for an expansion franchise with the NHL and is kicking off its season-ticket campaign on Thursday.

The new renderings focus largely on the south side of the current building where a new glass-enclosed atrium will serve as the main entrance for the building. The new atrium will be the biggest addition to the arena, but the facility will be gutted and rebuilt seemingly from the top down. It’s all part of a $660 million project that if completed will finally solve Seattle’s longtime arena problem.

Redeveloping the building isn’t easy because of the historical landmark status of the arena’s roofline. That limited what Oak View and architectural design firm Populous could do in creating a big enough footprint for a modern facility without being able to expand outward on three of the four sides of the building.

That’s why the atrium addition is so important to the design. It will be the primary entrance for the building and bring spectators in at the top of the arena. The arena will feature four levels and Populous associate principle Geoff Cheong said the design attempts to embrace the history of the building.

”We’ve talked about the arena maintaining its cherished, humble character within the neighborhood, within Seattle Center … but this is a remarkable, new identity, this south atrium. Its contemporary nature is very transparent and very inviting and a great first impression for residents and visitors to Seattle Center to embrace.”

Kraken? Totems? New domains raise interesting Seattle possibilities

Oak View Group
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It’s all in the name. A domain name.

As DetroitHockey.net’s Clark Rasmussen points out, even though a Seattle franchise hasn’t been announced yet, it hasn’t stopped some interesting speculation as to what that team would be called if and when that announcement comes.

The Seattle Kraken? Totems? Rainers? They’re all interesting (and perhaps potential) possibilities for what would be the NHL’s 32nd franchise.

Rasmussen has been following the registration of domain names for websites that are cropping up over the past several weeks. Many, he says, are bought by “known domain speculators” looking to make a quick buck if their speculation turns out to be accurate.

But Rasmussen stumbled upon something a little meatier on Thursday.

“By my count, 38 domains representing 13 different possible names were registered under the name of Christina Song,” Rasmussen wrote on his blog. “Ms. Song, according to her LinkedIn profile, is General Counsel at Oak View Group, who won the bid to redevelop Seattle’s Key Arena on December 4. The domains were registered via an email address for a lawyer at Gibson Dunn. That firm assisted Oak View Group in the Key Arena bid process.”

Rasmussen isn’t new to this. He did some great work in the lead up to the naming of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Rasmussen is quick to point out that 13 names that were registered don’t necessarily mean one of them will be the chosen name for the new club.

“The franchise hasn’t even been applied for,” he writes, noting that the ownership group hasn’t even been formed yet. “There is the distinct possibility that this is nothing. That said, someone so close to the process applying for so many related domains is worth noting.”

Indeed.

The names Rasmussen found were:

Seattle Cougars
Seattle Eagles
Seattle Emeralds
Seattle Evergreens
Seattle Firebirds
Seattle Kraken
Seattle Rainiers
Seattle Renegades
Seattle Sea Lions
Seattle Seals
Seattle Sockeyes
Seattle Totems
Seattle Whales

In an update to his original story later on Friday, Rasmussen identified 38 domains that were registered on Thursday for two years.

They are:

seattle-cougars.com
seattlecougarshockey.com
seattleeagles.com
seattle-eagles.com
seattleeagleshockey.com
emeraldshockey.com
seattle-emeralds.com
seattleemeraldshockey.com
evergreenshockey.com
seattleevergreens.com
seattle-evergreens.com
seattleevergreenshockey.com
firebirdshockey.com
seattlefirebirds.com
seattle-firebirds.com
seattlefirebirdshockey.com
seattle-kraken.com
seattlekrakenhockey.com
rainiershockey.com
seattle-rainiers.com
seattlerainiershockey.com
seattlerenegades.com
seattle-renegades.com
seattlerenegadeshockey.com
sealionshockey.com
seattle-sealions.com
seattle-sea-lions.com
seattlesealionshockey.com
seattleseals.com
seattle-seals.com
seattlesealshockey.com
seattle-sockeyes.com
seattlesockeyeshockey.com
seattle-totems.com
whaleshockey.com
seattlewhales.com
seattle-whales.com
seattlewhaleshockey.com


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Report: Seattle arena voting scheduled for Oct. 15

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City and county councils are expected to vote on the Seattle arena plan next Monday (Oct. 15), King 5 News reports.

To be exact, the dual voting will cover the city of Seattle and King County. The two voting sessions are expected to take place a half hour apart next week.

While it’s possible that an NHL team might inhabit that possible arena in the future, the people behind the arena movement have made it clear that their main goal is to attract an NBA franchise.

In fact, they said that they don’t have a plan that would include an NHL team as the lone tenant.

Some might be sad to realize that this plan probably reduces the chances of an NHL team being named the Seattle SuperSonics. Then again, that NBA team might want to forge its own identity, so you never know.

If you need yet another brief lockout diversion, try naming a hypothetical Seattle-based NHL team.

(About.com has a handy list of Seattle-are team names, if you’d prefer to go the historical and/or lazy route.)