Shovels in the ground in Seattle as groundbreaking begins to build a home for an NHL franchise

Seattle has its hockey team and now, they officially begin the process of renovating Key Arena.

And we can stop calling it a renovation, at least Tim Leiweke isn’t calling the project that.

“We made sure that this arena, this brand new arena, is the finest in the country and it will be,” said Leiweke, the CEO of the Oak View Group, who are overseeing the project.

On a cold, almost hockey-like weather day, the heart of Seattle Center brought many dignitaries together for the groundbreaking for what will be the new home of the Seattle NHL team. The franchise will begin play at the start of the 2021-22 season.

“There’s a lot of great things going on in the state of Washington,” Governor Jay Inslee said. “But I’m happy to say this is the happiest place right here in Washington.”

The renovations will include upgrades throughout the arena but will keep the iconic roof that sits at the heart of the Seattle Center neighborhood. The cost, paid by Oak View Group and private equity, will cost around $850 million dollars.

“This shows what we can do when we come together,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkin said. “We do not have to use taxpayer funds. Thanks to the Leiwekes and others who were committed to this and they said we will build this, we will commit to this city for the long term.”

While there was much celebration regarding the new beginnings for the arena and a hockey team returning to the city, the focus briefly shifted to basketball and bringing an NBA team back to Seattle.

“They (Seattle Hockey ownership group) have made it very clear that they are willing to write a big check,” Tim Leiweke said. “This ownership group has made a commitment to the city, sports fans of the Northwest, to the mayor and all of the basketball fans that we’re ready for the next one and we’re going to be working diligently as well.”

The Seattle SuperSonics called Key Arena home from 1967-2008. Leiweke explains that this ownership group is motivated and ready to welcome the best in music, entertainment and quite possibly the NBA.

“It will host the Storm, it will host the NHL and we’ll be prepared to host the NBA when they’re ready to talk to us,” Leiweke said.