Not to be confused with KeyBank Center.
The Key
Former names Washington State Pavilion (1962)
Washington State Coliseum (1962–1964)
Seattle Center Coliseum (1964–1994)
Address 305 Harrison St
Location Seattle, Washington
Coordinates 47°37′20″N 122°21′15″W / 47.62212°N 122.35410°W / 47.62212; -122.35410Coordinates: 47°37′20″N 122°21′15″W / 47.62212°N 122.35410°W / 47.62212; -122.35410
Owner City of Seattle
Operator AEG
Capacity 17,072 (basketball)
15,177 (ice hockey)
16,641 (end-stage)
17,459 (center-stage)
Broke ground May 12, 1960 (1960-05-12)[1]
Opened April 21, 1962 (1962-04-21)
Renovated 1964, 1994–95
Construction cost US$7 million[2]
($56.1 million in 2016 dollars[3])
$74.5 million (1995 renovation)
($119 million in 2016 dollars[3])
Architect Paul A. Thiry, FAIA, Architect
Structural engineer Peter H. Hostmark and Associates[4]
General contractor Howard S. Wright Construction[5]

Seattle Storm (WNBA) (2000–present)

Seattle Redhawks (NCAA) (1963–80, 2008–present)
Rat City Rollergirls (WFTDA) (2009–present)
The International (2014–present)
Seattle SuperSonics (NBA) (1967–78, 1985–94, 1995–2008)
Seattle Totems (CHL) (1974–75)
Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) (1985–94, 1995–2008)
Seattle SeaDogs (CISL) (1995–97)
Washington Huskies (NCAA) (1999–2000)
Venue Website

KeyArena (formerly Washington State Pavilion, Washington State Coliseum and Seattle Center Coliseum) is a multi-purpose arena in Seattle. It is located north of downtown in the 74-acre (300,000 m2) entertainment complex known as Seattle Center, the site of the 1962 World's Fair, the Century 21 Exposition.[6] It is used for entertainment purposes, such as concerts, ice shows, circuses, and sporting events.

It has a seating capacity of 17,072 for basketball games,[6] 15,177 for ice hockey games and ice shows, 16,641 for end-stage concerts, and 17,459 for center-stage concerts and boxing. 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.

The arena's current tenants are the Seattle Redhawks (Seattle University men's basketball team) and the Seattle Storm of the WNBA.[6] The Seattle University Redhawks men's basketball team are currently the arena's longest-serving tenant, having played in the arena from 1963 to 1980 and 2009 to present.[7] Rat City Rollergirls of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association have been a tenant since 2009.[8][9] KeyArena is now the permanent home of the Pac-12 Conference's women's basketball tournament.

KeyArena was the home of the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics, WHL Seattle Totems and the WHL Seattle Thunderbirds. On July 2, 2008, the Oklahoma City-based ownership group of the SuperSonics (Professional Basketball Club LLC) reached a settlement deal with the city of Seattle, releasing the team from the last two years of their lease with the city and allowing the team to relocate to Oklahoma City for the 2008–09 NBA season. After 41 seasons in Seattle (and Tacoma), the team became the Oklahoma City Thunder and the owners agreed to leave the SuperSonics name, logo, and colors in Seattle for a possible future NBA franchise.[10] The Thunderbirds, who had called the Seattle Center Coliseum and KeyArena home for 32 years, followed the SuperSonics out the arena at the end of 2008 for the ShoWare Center in nearby Kent.

KeyArena was the first publicly financed arena in the area to be fully supported by earned income from the building.[11] Following the 2008 settlement with the SuperSonics after relocation to Oklahoma City, KeyArena finances were bolstered for several years by a settlement fund but the current level of activity and revenue leaves little reserve beyond basic building [12]


Seattle Center Coliseum

The arena opened in 1962 as the Washington State Pavilion for the Century 21 Exposition, the work of architect Paul Thiry. After the close of the Exposition the Pavilion was remodeled as the Washington State Coliseum, one of the centerpieces of the new Seattle Center (the former Exposition grounds). When the newly renovated Coliseum opened the Seattle University men's basketball team became the arena's first major tenant. The Coliseum became home to the Seattle SuperSonics beginning with their inaugural season in 1967 and remained throughout most of the team's lifetime.[13] The Washington State Coliseum would later be renamed the Seattle Center Coliseum; operated by the City of Seattle and named after the Seattle Center grounds.

The Seattle Center Coliseum in this incarnation hosted two NBA Finals, in 1978 and 1979, both meetings putting the Washington Bullets and the Seattle SuperSonics against each other. The Bullets won the first meeting in seven games, winning game 7 in Seattle, with the Sonics retaliating the following year winning in five, this time finishing on the Bullets' home court, thus capturing the franchise's only championship to date. It was also the site of the only NBA game that was ever canceled on account of rain. On January 6, 1986 the Sonics were hosting the Phoenix Suns during a rainstorm and rain from the Coliseum roof leaked onto the court. Timeouts were called so ball boys armed with towels could do their best to wipe up the puddles, but even so, two players slipped and fell on the wet surface. Finally, during the second half, referee Mike Mathis called the game.[14]

The arena also hosted the 1974 NBA All-Star Game on January 15, 1974, and the 1987 NBA All-Star Saturday festivities leading up to the 1987 NBA All-Star Game, where former Seattle SuperSonics star Fred "Downtown Freddie" Brown was the MVP of the Schick NBA Legends Classic, Boston Celtics star Larry Bird won the NBA 3-Point Shootout, and Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan won the Gatorade Slam-Dunk Championship on February 7, 1987.

The arena hosted the basketball competitions of the 1990 Goodwill Games.[15]

Additionally, the arena has hosted concerts by many famous artists, spanning many different genres. On August 21, 1964 and August 25, 1966, The Beatles performed at the arena. A notable performance by Metallica was in 1989, when they were supporting the Damaged Justice Tour. Their performance at the Coliseum was one of their first large arena concerts and it was filmed for their live album, Live Shit: Binge and Purge.

Rebirth as KeyArena

The Coliseum was rebuilt between 1994 and 1995, bringing the arena up to NBA standards of the day. The local Seattle office of NBBJ, the second largest architectural firm in the country, was chosen as the architects.[16] In an unusual move, the Coliseum would be closed for a year during the renovation. Construction began on June 16, 1994.[6] During the 1994–95 season, the SuperSonics played their home games at the multi-purpose Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, about 30 miles (50 km) south.

On April 11, 1995, the city sold the naming rights to Cleveland-based KeyCorp, the parent of KeyBank, which renamed the Coliseum as KeyArena.[17] The renovation cost the city of Seattle $74.5 million and the SuperSonics approximately $21 million. The naming rights cost KeyCorp $15.1 million.

The remodeled arena maintained the architectural integrity of the original roofline by using the existing steel trusses in combination with four new main diagonal trusses. The wood, steel and concrete from the demolition was either reused in construction of the new arena or sold to recyclers. The original acoustical panels, the panels attached to the roof that keep the space from echoing, were refurbished and reused. The court was lowered 35 feet (11 m) below street level to allow for 3,000 more seats. The doors opened to the newly renovated arena on October 26, 1995. The sightlines, however, benefitted the SuperSonics at the expense of the junior Thunderbirds. The floor was just barely large enough to fit a regulation rink. Many seats in the lower level were so badly obstructed that almost half the lower level was curtained off for T-Birds games. The new scoreboard was significantly off-center in the hockey configuration, hanging over one blue line instead of the center-ice faceoff circle.

The first regular season game for the SuperSonics was played on November 4, 1995, against the Los Angeles Lakers.[18] The renovated arena hosted the 1996 NBA Finals that first season, when the SuperSonics lost to the Chicago Bulls in six games. The last SuperSonics game played there was on April 13, 2008, a 99–95 win over the Dallas Mavericks.[19]

U2 performed at the arena in 2005 on April 24 and 25, during their Vertigo Tour, attended by a sold-out total of 30,251.

Depeche Mode performed at the arena four times: the first one was on November 7, 1993, during their Devotional Tour, prior to the renovation. The second was in 1998 on December 7, during their Singles Tour. The third one was on November 16, 2005, during their Touring the Angel. The fourth one was in 2009 on August 10, during their Tour of the Universe, in front of a crowd of 9,376 people. The 2009 show was recorded for the group's live albums project Recording the Universe.

Once KeyArena lost the SuperSonics and the Thunderbirds, there was speculation that KeyBank may try to amend the naming rights deal.[20] In March 2009, the city and KeyCorp signed a new deal for a two-year term ending December 31, 2010, at an annual fee of $300,000.[17]

Diana Ross was scheduled to perform at the arena during her Return to Love Tour on July 24, 2000, but the show was cancelled, due to low ticket sales.

In 2009, the Seattle University Redhawks men's basketball team began playing their home games at KeyArena for the first time since 1980. In February 2009, the Seattle City Council approved a new 10-year lease that would keep the WNBA's Storm at KeyArena.[21]

In 2009, the arena hosted the WWE No Way Out Pay-Per-View event. The WWE returned on March 9, 2010 to tape the March 10th episode of NXT and March 12 episode of Smackdown. They would return a year later to host the WWE Over the Limit pay-per-view on May 22, 2011. The WWE returned to KeyArena on December 9, 2013, and then again on February 8, 2016, for Monday Night Raw.

In April 2011, the Professional Bull Riders brought the Built Ford Tough Series to KeyArena for the first time.[22]

Between June 28 and 30, 2011, The arena hosted the Seattle audition stages in the first season of the Fox singer search program The X Factor.

On January 21, 2011, Seattle Center announced that KeyCorp will not renew its agreement for naming rights of the KeyArena, after 15 years of sponsorship. The venue will remain known as KeyArena until a new sponsor is found.[23]

In January 2012, reporter Scott Burnside said an NHL team playing in KeyArena "would be entirely acceptable", as a temporary venue for a franchise, depending on a future arena plan.[24] The Phoenix Coyotes were often speculated to be a likely candidate for relocation and in June 2013, reports circulated that if the NHL could not negotiate a new lease for the Coyotes with the city of Glendale, Arizona by July 2, the league would sell the team to a private investment group which would then be given permission to relocate the team to Seattle prior to the 2013–2014 season and use KeyArena as a temporary home.[25] On July 2, the city of Glendale, Arizona approved a new lease for the Coyotes at Arena, and soon after, the NHL approved the sale of the Coyotes to an investment group that will keep the Coyotes in the Phoenix area, eliminating the possibility that the Coyotes could move to Seattle.

Conversely, in February 2012, SB Nation columnist Travis Hughes said that while it made "too much sense" for the NHL not to put a team in Seattle in the future, KeyArena was completely unsuitable even as a temporary facility due to the same problems with sight lines that ultimately forced the Thunderbirds to move out. Hughes wrote that even one year of NHL hockey in an arena where half the lower bowl sat unused would be "just unacceptable." He argued that the situation would be even worse than what the Coyotes faced at America West Arena, their original home in Phoenix. When the Coyotes played there from 1996 to 2003, they had to deal with seats where part of the ice could not be seen at all, forcing them to curtain off several thousand seats in the upper level.[26]

League officials have hinted that a new arena would have to be in place before a new or relocated NHL team came to Seattle. During the 2012 All-Star Weekend, Bettman said that while Seattle was a good fit for the NHL, "there's no building."[26] Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that KeyArena would be "a difficult arena for hockey" due to the large number of obstructed-view seats.[27]

In February 2012, KING 5 reporter Chris Daniels said an NBA team could also use the KeyArena as a temporary home.[28]

In July 2012, at a public town hall meeting debating Chris Hansen's proposed NBA/NHL arena in downtown Seattle, anti-arena proponents wanted to "re-explore" using KeyArena instead of the proposed site downtown.[29] The environmental reviews required for the building approval are, as of February 2013, exploring alternate sites that include the KeyArena site and the nearby Memorial Stadium site in addition to Mr. Hansen's preferred site near the Mariners' Safeco Field parking garage.[30]

In December 2013, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis became the first Seattle-based act ever to play three consecutive sold-out shows at the KeyArena when the duo concluded their 2013 World Tour in support of their album The Heist.[31]

Starting in 2014, American video game developer Valve Corporation began hosting The International Dota 2 eSports tournaments at the venue, which have since featured prize pools of over US$20 million.[32][33][34]

KeyArena hosted the second and third round games of the 2015 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament in March.

Seating capacity

The seating capacity for basketball has gone as followed:[35]


In late 2004, proposals for expanding KeyArena to nearly twice its current size to accommodate new restaurants, shops, and a practice court (the cost was estimated at $220 million) were debated. These proposals never came to fruition and were cited by current and former SuperSonics' owners as a reason KeyArena is no longer viable.

Prior to the SuperSonics relocating to Oklahoma City, NBA commissioner David Stern favored and agreed with owner Clay Bennett that KeyArena was not adequate enough for an NBA venue. Fans of the SuperSonics support group Save Our Sonics exposed Stern's hypocrisy and presented tapes of him years before when KeyArena reopened after renovations showing Stern approving and complimenting the arena himself.[43]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to KeyArena.


  1. "Coliseum Groundbreaking Ceremony envelope featuring the Century 21 Exposition logo, Seattle World's Fair, May 12, 1960". UW Libraries Digital Collections. University of Washington. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  2. Turner, Wallace (August 12, 1962). "FAIR IN SEATTLE TO SHOW A PROFIT; Debentures Are Paid Off as Turnstiles Click Steadily Governments Put Up Funds Monorail a Success Dining Room Crowded". The New York Times.
  3. 1 2 Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  5. Grindeland, Sherry (April 9, 2003). "Winston D. Brown, Builder of Landmarks". The Seattle Times. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 4 "STORM: KeyArena Information". Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  7. "Redhawks, Seattle University Men's Hoop To Play 20 Division I Games In 2008–09". Seattle University. Retrieved September 18, 2008.
  8. "Rat City Roller Girls rock n' roll in KeyArena debut". West Seattle Herald. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  9. Karras, Christy (May 29, 2009). "Rat City Rollergirls closes its fifth season — and first at KeyArena". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  10. "SuperSonics, Seattle reach last-minute settlement". Retrieved July 2, 2008.
  11. Bhatt, Sanjay (January 21, 2011). "Business & Technology | KeyArena's name to change; bank drops sponsorship | Seattle Times Newspaper". Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  13. "KeyArena – Seattle Supersonics Stadium". Retrieved July 13, 2008.
  14. "Leaky Coliseum roof halts Seattle SuperSonics-Phoenix Suns game, the first National Basketball Association contest called on account of rain, on January 6, 1986". Historylink. Retrieved July 13, 2008.
  15. "Traffic Impacts During the Goodwill Games" (PDF). Washington State Department of Transportation.
  17. 1 2 "Seattle City Council Bills and Ordinances". City of Seattle. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  18. "KeyArena Tickets – KeyArena Ticket Info & Seating". Vivid Seats. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  19. Eskenazi, Stuart (April 14, 2008). "Sonics' home finale stirs memories, recriminations". Seattle Times.
  20. Virgin, Bill (July 22, 2008). "KeyArena lost a tenant; will it lose a name?". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved July 22, 2008.
  21. "STORM: Council Approves Storm Lease". National Basketball Association. February 2, 2009. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  22. Archived September 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  23. "Name change coming to KeyArena". KOMO. Seattle. January 22, 2011. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  24. McIntyre, Jessamyn (January 30, 2012). "NHL Reporter: Seattle a Favorite for Relocated Team". KIRO. Seattle. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  25. Leahy, Sean (June 16, 2013). "Phoenix Coyotes Moving to Seattle? Roenick Reportedly Part of Plan B for NHL". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  26. 1 2 Hughes, Travis (February 6, 2012). "NHL Relocation: Why The Phoenix Coyotes Won't Move To Seattle This Summer". SB Nation. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  27. "Group interested in luring NHL to Seattle". KING-TV. Retrieved June 22, 2011.
  28. "Is KeyArena Key to Arena Proposal?". KING. Seattle. February 7, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  29. Salk, Mike (July 10, 2012). "3 Important Messages from Town Hall Meeting on Arena". KIRO. Seattle. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  30. February 25, 2013 Council Briefing on Arena Progress
  32. "The International". Retrieved April 5, 2014.
  33. "Tickets to The International". Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  34. Porter, Matt. "The International 2016 Now Has the Largest eSports Prize Pool in History". IGN. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  35. "2002–2003 Seattle Supersonics Media Guide" (PDF). National Basketball Association. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  36. "Revamped Seattle Coliseum Opens Friday". The Register-Guard. Eugene, Oregon. June 4, 1964. p. 1D. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  37. "Coliseum Roof Raising Proposed". Ellensburg Daily Record. September 17, 1976. p. 11. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  38. "Bullets 'Guarded' About a Comeback". The Register-Guard. Eugene, Oregon. May 29, 1979. p. 1C. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  39. Dodds, Tracy (January 12, 1986). "Lakers Beaten, 105–99, as Sonics Get 36 Points From Their 'X' Factor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  40. Allen, Percy (March 6, 1994). "Preps Bid Farewell To Old Coliseum". The Seattle Times. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  41. Allen, Percy (November 12, 2012). "Seattle Will Host NCAA Tournament Games in 2015". The Seattle Times. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  42. "KeyArena Booking Brochure" (PDF). KeyArena at Seattle Center. March 28, 2016. Retrieved July 4, 2016.
  43. Williams, Eric D. (July 3, 2008). "KeyArena Still The Big Issue". Tacoma News-Tribune. Retrieved July 13, 2008.
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