SEATTLE -- The path toward the start of the 2021 NHL season for the expansion Seattle hockey team took another significant step forward on Thursday as members of the project broke ground on the new construction project to build a brand new training facility and skating complex for the team to base its operations at the Northgate Mall.
The facility, located on the east side of the shopping complex, will house three ice rinks with access available to the community at large. It was serve as the practice facility for the NHL team and house the franchise's business operations as well. The main rink will serve as the team's practice ice with space for 1,000 spectators. The secondary and third rinks will have space for 400 spectators each. All three sheets will be available to the public.
The site will include a team store and restaurant, a new Virginia Mason health clinic to service the team and members of the community and space for team administration.
"We could have gone to an existing rink and said hey, let's build our locker room space and put up paint and banners and check a box and I had done that in a prior life but I think here we said that's really a shortcut," NHL Seattle CEO/President Tod Leiweke said. "Because how can you be playing in a city with no sheets of ice? So the city of Seattle did not have a sheet of ice and now they're going to have four - one at the big house and three here.
"It also gives us a chance to grow the sport. It gives us a chance to really make a statement to players and future players and so it's the right thing to do and it's a real credit to ownership. But it really does go back to the fans. If it had taken eight months to get to 10,000 tickets, perhaps things are different, but instead 32,000 people stepped up on that day two years ago and it really changed everything for us."
Leiweke said the goal is for the facility to be completed by the summer of 2021 and available for the team's first rookie camp in early August of that year. The facility will have 14 community-use locker room and will be available for youth/adult hockey leagues, birthday parties and events, tournaments and open skating with classes for both skating and hockey.
"We took control of this site on Monday and it had already been razed. It's 18 feet down so the building will actually have a little subterranean vibe itself and then this will come down and they're reinventing everything around us," Leiweke said.
"If you're somebody running a tournament and you want to have a national tournament, where would you want to come? I think this will be an incredible local, regional, national, international destination for hockey or figure skating."
Photo Credit: NHL Seattle Youth and Community Development/Training Director Kyle Boyd, NHL Seattle CEO/President Tod Leiweke, Seattle city council member Deborah Juarez, Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan and Virginia Mason CEO Gary Kaplan take part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Seattle NHL franchise's future training facility at the Northgate Mall complex on February 27, 2020. (photo by Curtis Crabtree / Sports Radio 950 KJR) ... A map of the future Northgate Mall complex with the location of the team's practice facility and plans to rebuild the surrounding space.