KeyArena at Seattle Center is located north of downtown Seattle, USA on the grounds of Seattle Center (the site of 1962's Century 21 Exposition, a World's Fair). The arena's primary tenants are the Seattle SuperSonics of the National Basketball Association. It hosted the 1974 NBA All-Star Game.
Opened in 1962 as the Seattle Center Coliseum, the rebuild began on June 16, 1994 before the building reopened on October 26, 1995. During the rebuild, the building's original roofline was used as a guide and some of the original concrete for the main supports still exists but most everything about the arena was brand new. The court which was originally at street level is now 35 feet below to allow more seating. After the rebuild, the Coliseum was renamed KeyArena, as Key Bank purchased the naming rights. The first regular season game that the Seattle SuperSonics played in KeyArena at Seattle Center took place on November 4, 1995, against the Los Angeles Lakers.
For several seasons between 1980-1985, the Sonics used the Kingdome as their home arena, in addition to the Coliseum. This primarily occurred during playoff games and other games with sellout crowds exceeding that of the old coliseum's capacity of around 14,000. The Coliseum has also been a site of controversy. On January 5, 1986, a game between the Sonics and the Phoenix Suns was rained out on account of a leaky roof. Several seasons before in 1972, Spencer Haywood injured himself after slipping in a water puddle on court as a result of the leaky roof. He would later sue the City of Seattle and collect $5,000.
In addition to being the home of the Sonics, it is also home to the Seattle Storm of the Women's National Basketball Association and the Seattle Thunderbirds, a junior hockey team in the Western Hockey League. The Thunderbirds hosted the Memorial Cup here in 1992. It is also used for non-athletic entertainment purposes, such as ice shows, circuses, and concerts.
The rebuild cost the city of Seattle $74.5 million, and the Seattle SuperSonics approximately $21 million. KeyArena is the first publicly financed arena fully supported by earned income from the building. Its seating capacity for basketball games is 17,072, ice hockey games and ice shows 15,177, end-stage concerts, 16,641 and center-stage concerts and boxing 17,459. Risers hold 7,440 on the upper level and up to 7,741 on the lower level, with luxury suites adding another 1,160 seats.
In late 2004 proposals for expanding KeyArena to nearly twice its current size to accommodate new restaurants, shops, and a practice court (the cost is to be approximately $220 million) were debated. Because of a lack of interest by the city of Seattle in following through on the project the new owners of the Sonics and Storm made the decision to look outside the city limits for siting a replacement arena. Renton was chosen as the site for the new King County Events Center. The viability of the arena after the Sonics lease expires in 2010 is under question. Most proposals involve leveling the building or removing the walls and making it an open air facility.
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