The Women’s National Basketball Association’s Seattle Storm faces the prospect of playing in a temporary venue for at least part of the 2021 season after it emerged that KeyArena’s reopening is expected to be pushed back at least two months, to late summer of 2021.
The $930m privately-funded KeyArena will be the home of Seattle’s National Hockey League expansion team, as well as the Storm.
The global Covid-19 pandemic has affected the construction process. The delays are not expected to impact the as-yet-unnamed NHL Seattle team, which is due to take to the ice in October 2021.
“Any delay is absolutely minimal. Given what we went through the workers have kept building. But there have been issues with supply lines,” NHL Seattle president Tod Leiweke told the Associated Press. “If it’s not going to be the date we hoped it’s not very long thereafter. And it’s impressive how they’ve actually kept things on schedule. If our target was early summer of 2021 to say we’re going to hit it sometime in the summer is pretty good considering all things.”
The Storm had been due to play the 2020 season at both the University of Washington’s Alaska Airlines Arena and Angel of the Winds Arena. The WNBA has instead announced plans stage its entire season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Leiweke added: “The most important thing for us is making sure they [the Storm] have a brilliant home. And that’s really what we’re creating. So how it works, how they can load their schedule, the exact date…we talk to them all the time.”
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic and social unrest following the death of George Floyd, NHL Seattle has delayed announcing its team name.
“It’s not the right time,” Leiweke told the Seattle Times. “Vegas [Golden Knights] did it a year out. We’ve got ample time, and the thing this organization will never be is tone deaf. So we’ve got to pick the right time, and we’ve got to make sure all of our ducks are in a row.”