Seattle NHL arena not expected to open until middle of 2021

Construction equipment stands on the floor as the interior of the existing roof of KeyArena, the only structure that will remain during a major renovation of the building, is visible above the construction area for what will be NHL hockey team site Thursday, April 18, 2019, at Seattle Center in Seattle. Seattle will add the NHL's 32nd team and play is scheduled to begin at the arena in 2021. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
The interior of the existing roof of KeyArena, the only structure that will remain during a major renovation of the building, is visible above what will be the construction site below as media members gather on the floor during a tour of what will be NHL hockey team site Thursday, April 18, 2019, at Seattle Center in Seattle. Seattle will add the NHL's 32nd team and play is scheduled to begin at the arena in 2021. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seats are gone and concrete is partially torn away inside KeyArena in the early stages of demolition for what will be an NHL hockey team site below the old arena roof, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at Seattle Center in Seattle. Seattle will add the NHL's 32nd team and play is scheduled to begin at the arena in 2021. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Media members stand near a model of the renovated KeyArena as a video about the plan plays behind during a presentation about the arena that will house an NHL hockey team, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at Seattle Center in Seattle. Seattle will add the NHL's 32nd team and play is expected to begin at the arena in 2021. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
The existing roof of KeyArena, the only structure that will remain during a major renovation of the building, stands above what will be the construction site below for an NHL hockey team site Thursday, April 18, 2019, at Seattle Center in Seattle. Seattle will add the NHL's 32nd team and play is scheduled to begin at the arena in 2021. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A worker glances down an existing hallway adjacent to the interior of KeyArena in the early stage of demolition, during a tour of what will be an NHL hockey team site built beneath the old arena roof, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at Seattle Center in Seattle. Seattle will add the NHL's 32nd team and play is scheduled to begin at the arena in 2021. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
NHL Seattle team president Tod Leiweke, right, embraces Seattle Center redevelopment director Jill Crary as they stand inside KeyArena, most of which is being demolished, during a media tour of what will be an NHL hockey team site built beneath the old arena roof, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at the Seattle Center in Seattle. Seattle will add the NHL's 32nd team and play is scheduled to begin at the arena in 2021. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE — The arena for Seattle's new NHL franchise won't be completed until late spring or summer of 2021 but that shouldn't have any impact on the expansion team's first season.

Team President Tod Leiweke said Thursday the delay could end up affecting some other plans for the franchise, including the hopes of hosting the 2021 NHL draft. After being awarded the league's 32nd team last December, Seattle officials were hoping to have the building open by early spring 2021, but design delays and a change in general contractors has delayed the project.

Leiweke said Mortenson, the new contractor, has been provided with incentives to try to have the arena ready by June 1, 2021, in the hope of having the building host the team's expansion draft, the NHL draft and a full home slate for the WNBA's Seattle Storm.

"We have had discussions with the NHL, they're open to that idea, where we would host not only the expansion draft in the building but the full league draft," Leiweke said. "That would be a heck of a way to start a franchise. We are fully motivated."

Getting the Storm back into the building is a major priority, Leiweke said. Coming off winning the WNBA title last season, the Storm will play this season and the next in temporary homes around the Seattle area.

Ken Johnson, construction executive with Oak View Group, said they should have a more detailed construction timeline by next spring.

"The Storm will play in this building and they're not really a tenant, they're a partner," Leiweke said. "We have deep admiration for them and what they do. We have a deep admiration for their championships. Hopefully, some of that will rub off on other teams in the building."

The price of the privately funded project, which is being built on the site of the former KeyArena, has grown to between $900 million and $930 million, Leiweke said. The price was originally expected to be about $650 million.

Mortenson has agreed to a guaranteed price for the project and Leiweke said there are contingencies built in should unexpected issues arise.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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