A proposed new multi-purpose arena in Seattle is now scheduled to open in mid-2021, although the delay is unlikely to affect the first season of the city’s new NHL ice hockey franchise.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the arena on December 5, with the former KeyArena set to be transformed into the state-of-the-art Seattle Center Arena. It had originally been hoped that the arena would open earlier in 2021.

The Seattle Times newspaper has now reported that the cost of the project has risen to $900m (£692m/€800m), with the opening date having been pushed back until at least June 1, 2021.

The project had initially been scheduled to cost under $600m but this figure rose to $800m when Seattle was awarded an NHL expansion franchise in December last year.

Despite the delay and the cost increase, Tod Leiweke, president and chief executive of NHL Seattle, remains confident that the arena will still be ready by the summer of 2021 ahead of the 2021-22 NHL campaign.

Leiweke told the Times: “The project is definitely costing more than we thought, it’s taking a little bit longer, but it’s with great satisfaction that we’re here today saying ‘We are building something special.’

“We’ve solved the Rubik’s Cube that was decades in the making in this community. There is so much good going on. This city deserves a world-class arena and they are about to get it.”

Mortenson was appointed as the new general contractor for the arena in December after Skanska-Hunt stepped away from the project by mutual agreement amid reported friction with OVG-Seattle, the entity behind the arena.

The arena will also serve as the home of women’s WNBA basketball team Seattle Storm.

Leiweke added: “The Storm will play in this building and they’re not really a tenant, they’re a partner. We have deep admiration for them and what they do. We have a deep admiration for their championships. Hopefully, some of that will rub off on other teams in the building.”

The new Seattle Center Arena is the largest private investment in Pacific Northwest sports and entertainment history. When complete, the arena’s interior will expand to 750,000 square feet and will have a 17,400-person capacity for ice hockey and a 18,600-person capacity for basketball.

Image: NHL Seattle