Arena Photos

If you’re going to play the game, you need to have a rink to play it on.  Over the 87+ years of hockey in Seattle, only three buildings have been home to major teams – the Seattle Arena, the Mercer Street Arena (generally referred to as "The Arena"), and the Coliseum (now known as the Key Arena).

The Arena – circa 1915
Courtesy of Dave Eskenazi

The Seattle Arena was home to the Metropolitans from 1915 through 1925.  The building opened to the public on November 12, 1915, and the Mets played their first game on the new rink on December 7, 1915.  The building, located on 5th Avenue and University Street, could hold 5,000 spectators for hockey.  By 1925 the Mets had fallen on hard times, and the owners of the Ice Arena bought out the team’s lease for $10,000, tore down the building and replaced it with a parking garage.

 

The Mercer Street Arena circa 1960
Also known as the Civic Arena, Civic Ice Arena, and Mercer Arena

The Mercer Street Arena was completed in 1927 along with the Civic Auditorium and Recreation Field.  The Arena was originally known as "The Exposition Building", and was built on the corner of Mercer Street and Fourth Avenue North.  The Coliseum and Space Needle would be built in the same area in the early 1960’s, and the entire complex became known as "Seattle Center".  The Arena was home to hockey teams beginning in the late 1920’s, and was still being used by the Seattle Thunderbirds as late as the beginning of the 1995-96 WHL season.   

The rink in the Arena was small, measuring 195′ long by 83′ wide.  The most notable feature of the rink was the corners, as they were very tight – almost at a 90 degree angle.  The building seated 4,139 for hockey, and was home to the Eskimos, Sea Hawks, Olympics, Ironmen, Americans, Totems (through the 1963-64 season), Breakers and Thunderbirds.  The Thunderbirds would often split their home games between the Arena and the Coliseum during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, playing home games in both during the same season.

The interior of the Mercer Street Arena circa 1929.
The team in the striped uniforms is the Seattle Eskimos.

The Arena still exists today, but the ice making equipment has been torn out and it is now the temporary home of the Seattle Opera while the Opera House is being remodeled.  It is not known if new equipment will be installed and hockey will once again grace the Arena floor.  As it stands now, the last game was played there on October 28, 1995 between the Seattle Thunderbirds and the Saskatoon Blades.

The Seattle Center Coliseum
(now the Key Arena)
Photo courtesy of Louis Chirillo

The Coliseum was built as part of Seattle Center (which includes the Space Needle) for the 1962 World’s Fair.  The Totems became full time tenants of the building at the start of the 1964-65 season.  The ice surface in the Coliseum was 200′ by 85′, and the seating capacity was around 12,300.  The Totems would continue to make the Coliseum their permanent home for the remainder of the club’s existence, through the end of the 1974-75 season. 

The Thunderbirds started playing some home games there beginning in 1989-90, and would continue to split their time between the Coliseum and the Arena until the end of the 1993-94 season.  A project to remodel the Coliseum was started in 1994 and completed in 1995, forcing the Thunderbirds to play all of their games at the Arena during that period.  Upon the opening of the "improved" Coliseum (renamed the Key Arena) in the fall of 1995, it became the permanent home to the Thunderbirds.  In fact the Thunderbirds October 30, 1995 game against the Brandon Wheat Kings was the first event held in the Key Arena.

  Seattle Arena Mercer Arena Coliseum/Key Arena
Construction Completed 1915 1927 1962 (Remodeled in 1995)
Cost $100,000 $1.15 Million
(Includes cost of Civic Auditorium and Civic Stadium) 
$4.5 Million (1995 renovation cost $80 Million)
Cost in 2006 Dollars $1.96 Million $13.3 Million $29.5 Million ($133.5 Million with renovations)
Seating Capacity  Approx. 5,000 Approx. 4,500 12,700 before renovations
Approx. 9,500 post-renovations
Used for Hockey 1915-24 1927-95  (not used from 1964-77) 1964 to Present

 

The Teams Other Stuff