In news that rang bells – and sounded goal horns – from Sea Island, Georgia to Seattle, Washington, the NHL unanimously voted to expand to the Emerald City, making Seattle the home of its 32nd franchise.
The expansion to Seattle is contingent on one key element – the building of a brand new arena on the land that currently houses KeyArena at Seattle Center. That arena is where the Seattle Storm have played for their entire existence.
One portion of the expansion press conference WNBA fans were listening out for was the portion regarding the arena’s renovations. The NHL team was expected to debut in 2020, but will now take the ice beginning with the 2021-22 season.
The moving back of the debut date by one year may have raised concerns that the Storm would be displaced for the 2021 season as well, but it was announced at the press conference that the new arena will open for business in the spring of 2021.
That, of course, is just in time for the 2021 W campaign – meaning the Storm, not the NHL, will be the first sporting tenant to call the new Seattle Center Arena home.
Next season, the defending WNBA champs will play the majority of its home games at Alaska Airlines Arena on the campus of the University of Washington. The city of Seattle will pay Force 10, the Storm’s owners, $100,000 for every year the Storm are displaced from the arena.
The Storm signed a lease with the city that has them playing at the Seattle Center Arena through 2028. It may not be too early to refer to the new building within WNBA circles as…The House That Stewie Built…