Work has begun on a new NHL arena in Seattle after the US city was confirmed as the ice hockey league’s latest franchise location earlier in the week.

Officials in Seattle yesterday (Wednesday) broke ground on the development of KeyArena, a 56-year-old, publicly-owned facility.

The facility will become known as the Seattle Center Arena. The cost of the arena renovation has now risen to $850m (£667m/€749m) – an increase of $200m on initial projections. The arena will be renovated in its entirety using only private funds.

Seattle Center Arena will have a capacity of around 17,400 for NHL games. A season-ticket deposit drive was held in Seattle on March 1, with 10,000 deposits having been placed in the first 12 minutes and 32,000 in the first 31 hours. There is a current waiting list of around 10,000.

Yesterday’s groundbreaking event saw team principals take it in turns to give remarks and shovel dirt on the site, with construction set to begin almost immediately.

It had originally been hoped that the team would move into the new-look arena for the 2020-21 season, but NHL Seattle has agreed with the league to put this back a year. This will give the group further time to work on both the arena and a nearby training facility.

KeyArena served as the home of NBA basketball team the Seattle SuperSonics before the franchise relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008 and rebranded as the Thunder. There has been talk that the renovation of the arena could see the return of NBA to the facility.

NHL Seattle chief executive Tod Leiweke has said that women’s WNBA basketball franchise the Seattle Storm is set to play games at the venue, which is likely to open in March or April 2021 with concerts.

Image: NHL Seattle