Hockey fans in Seattle will have to wait a little longer to take a step inside their future NHL team's new arena.
In a press conference Thursday, the NHL to Seattle expansion group announced plans to open the arena in June 2021, a slight delay from the project's original target date of spring 2021. However, the new date does make it possible for the Emerald City to become host of the NHL Expansion Draft and NHL Draft before the team takes the ice for the first time during the 2021-22 NHL season.
"That would be a heck of a way to start a franchise," NHL Seattle president Tod Leiweke said in a press conference on Thursday. "We are fully motivated."
The Seattle Center Arena, formerly known as KeyArena, began renovations in December, but recent design delays and switching contractors have pushed the date for completion back.
"We'll know in about a year what the probability of an exact date is," Leiweke said. "We'll know a lot more in the coming year."
Sneak peek inside our Preview Center! This space is designed to preview the in-arena experience for @NHL hockey, live music, and basketball and we're excited to host our fans here in the coming months. #ReturnToHockey #NHLSeattle
Full gallery ➡️ https://t.co/jl6MHb5Jic pic.twitter.com/N6MYOg6YIC
— NHL Seattle (@NHLSeattle_) April 18, 2019
The price of the privately-funded project has also soared to somewhere between $900 to $930 million. The initial price was expected to cost around $600 million. Leiweke said the group has provided Mortenson, the project's new contractor, with special incentives if they can have the arena ready by June 2021.
"The Storm will play in this building, and they're not really a tenant, they're a partner," Leiweke said. "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 WNBA defending champions will play at University of Washington's Alaska Airlines Arena during the construction of Seattle Center Arena.