Seattle Thunderbirds

Arena Name: Key Arena
Capacity: 15,177
Built: 1962
Address: 334 First Ave. N., Seattle, WA, 98109
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
Last Game: 2008


 Key Arena

Key Arena

 What Was the Arena Like?

When the Seattle Kraken began play in 2021, their home arena was in some ways both the oldest and the newest in the NHL. Climate Pledge Arena, as it’s now hilariously known, exists under the same heritage-designated roof as the former Key Arena, which itself was a significantly-renovated upgrade from 1962’s Seattle Center Coliseum, originally built for the World’s Fair of that same year.

It was the previous two iterations of the arena that hosted both the NBA’s Supersonics and the WHL’s Thunderbirds. The T-birds moved down the street from the ancient Mercer Arena in 1989, making the Coliseum their permanent home, and then moved out in 2009 when the new ShoWare Center opened in suburban Kent. For those twenty years, the Thunderbirds joined the Hitmen, Oil Kings, Giants, Hamilton Bulldogs, Montreal Rocket, and other junior teams playing in NHL-sized arenas, usually with the upper deck curtained-off and a resulting lack of atmosphere.

From photos, it appears that the Key Arena was poorly-suited to hockey anyway. The building was designed for the NBA first and foremost, which meant that one end of seats had to be removed in order to fit the ice surface in, like America West Arena in Phoenix or the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. The center scoreboard was off-centre for hockey as well, hanging roughly over the blue line in one end, and from what I’ve heard atmosphere was poor apart from the biggest games.

Key Arena was demolished in anticipation of the arrival of the Kraken, apart from the famous roof superstructure. In fact, the new arena is mostly underground, a brand new NHL-sized arena that was excavated and built under a mid-century modern roof. I am looking forward to going to a Kraken game in the near future to see it for myself.

 What's the Arena Used For Today?
The arena structure that was Key Arena was demolished in 2018, though the roof was preserved as diggers excavated a massive hole underneath it and basically built a new arena from scratch. What exists now, from what I understand, is a brand new arena that still looks the same as the old one from outside. It's home primarily to the Seattle Kraken of the NHL and also hosts the Seattle Redhawks college basketball team and the Seattle Storm WNBA team.

If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, please e-mail me at Email and I'll update the guide.

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Last Revised: November 25, 2021