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Costs rising on Seattle Center arena project

By: Graham Johnson, KIRO 7 News

SEATTLE – Costs of the new arena at Seattle Center now top $900 million and the project might not be finished until just a few months before the start of the 2021 NHL season, team leaders said Thursday.     

Tod Leiweke of Seattle Hockey Partners said construction costs are rising and owners are committed to quality. “We didn’t cut things out, and they didn’t ultimately cut corners,” he said.  “This is definitely more money than we all thought, but I think as time’s marched on we’ve all realized how epic this project is.”

The privately-financed project was originally expected to cost $600 million.

Developers had hoped to finish the arena by late 2020, but now estimate they’ll be done early in the summer of 2021.

That means the Seattle Storm might have to play a few extra games at the University of Washington or Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, which could cost city taxpayers.

A contract calls for the city to pay the Storm $260,000 per displaced home game in 2021, up to $2.6 million a season. 

Several hours after KIRO 7 inquired of city officials about the potential impact on taxpayers, a spokeswoman wrote that arena developers “would assume any costs should the Seattle Storm season be delayed in 2021.”

The Seattle Storm sent a statement saying developers are committed to returning the team to the arena by June 1, 2021, which would allow them to play most of the season in their new home.   

On Thursday, Seattle Hockey Partners brought reporters into the arena to show the progress of demolition.

For the most part, only concrete remains inside.

Once a temporary steel support structure is built, crews will begin digging down through the floor, removing 600,000 cubic yards of soil and effectively doubling the size of the current arena.

The arena’s iconic roof will be preserved.

Despite the delay, Leiweke said he is confident the arena will be ready for the 2021 NHL season.

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