The group seeking to launch a new NHL ice hockey franchise in Seattle is confident that renovation work at KeyArena will be completed in time for the team to begin playing in the 2020-21 season.
The NHL Seattle group has said it will work closely with the NHL to ensure the work is finished on time, with the city set to be rubber-stamped as the league’s latest franchise destination next month.
Despite the group’s confidence in KeyArena being ready in time for the 2020-21 NHL season, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly has warned that the team may be forced to begin playing a year later.
The current timeline for the project will see the arena be ready by November 2020, which would be too late for the new team to begin play in the 2020-21 season. “We’ll see how that timetable adjusts over time,” Daly said, according to the NHL’s official website.
On the subject of the team playing its first season in an alternate arena, Daly added: “They’ve mentioned that possibility, but I don’t think that’s an ideal way to bring in an expansion franchise by playing in an alternate venue for any period of time, really. We’ll see how that plays out. I know they have an interest in starting in ’20-21 and we’d like the accommodate them any way we can.”
KeyArena previously served as the home of NBA basketball team the Seattle Supersonics, which in 2008 relocated to Oklahoma and how plays as the Oklahoma City Thunder. KeyArena has continued to host basketball and ice hockey matches since then but there are plans by Oak View Group to spend $700m transforming the arena into the home of a new NHL team.