The Arenas

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© Jeff Obermeyer 2000-2009

The departure of the Seattle Thunderbirds for their new rink in Kent during the 2008-09 season left the city of Seattle without a hockey team for the first time since the 1976-77 season. Since 1915 the city has only gone without some type of high level amateur or professional hockey for about six years.

While the Thunderbirds maintain the Seattle name, the arenas below are those located in the city itself. Between 1915 and 2008 only three buildings hosted hockey in the city – the Seattle Arena, the Civic Arena (aka the Mercer Arena), and the Coliseum/Key Arena.

Located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and University Street, the Arena (above) was right in the middle of what was becoming the business and amusement center of the city. Built at a cost of $100,000, it had a seating capacity of roughly 4,000. The ice surface was roughly 200 feet by 80 feet, and the ice was kept cool using a 75-ton refrigeration plant and eight miles of piping under the floor.

The building hosted the Stanley Cup finals in 1917 and 1919, and the Metropolitans posted an impressive 73-30 record there over the course of their nine seasons in Seattle. Following the 1923-24 season it was converted into a parking garage, finally being demolished in 1963 and replaced by the IBM Building (right – photo taken February 2010).

First Game : December 7, 1915 (Seattle Metropolitans defeated the Victoria Aristocrats 3-2)

Last Game : February 20, 1924 (Metropolitans defeated Vancouver 3-0)

The Civic Arena (exterior at left, interior at right) was completed in 1927 as part of a three-building complex at the north end of what is today known as Seattle Center. The entire project cost just over $1.1 million and gave the city both a first class sports arena as well as a larger venue for events in the Civic Auditorium.

The Arena, located on Mercer Street, had a seating capacity of 4,500 for hockey. It’s tenants included the Eskimos, Sea Hawks, Olympics, Ironmen, Americans, Bombers, Totems, Breakers, and Thunderbirds, as well as the various incarnations of the City Hockey League. Perhaps its best known features were the slightly smaller than normal ice surface and the very tightly angled corners. The building was renovated in the mid-1990s, and while it no longer has an ice plant, it continues to host various events.

First Game : November 23, 1928 (Seattle Eskimos defeated the Portland Buckaroos 5-2)

Last Game : October 28, 1995 (Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Saskatoon Blades)

The Coliseum was built as part of the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle. It was first used for hockey in 1964, and with a seating capacity of 12,700 it put Seattle on the map as a big-league hockey city. The Totems wasted no time moving into the new building, making it their home until their demise in 1975. No hockey was regularly played there again until the late 1980s when the red-hot Thunderbirds began using it for some home games. Following a remodel in the 1990s it became the permanent home of the Thunderbirds until they moved to the ShoWare Center in Kent, about 20 miles south of Seattle.

First Game : September 30, 1964 (Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Seattle Totems 7-1, exhibition)

Last Game : December 30, 2008 (Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Chilliwack Bruins, 2-0)

The Thunderbirds moved to the city of Kent and the ShoWare Center during the 2007-08 season. The building was brand new construction with the Thunderbirds as the anchor tenant.

First Game : January 4, 2008 (Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Everett Silvertips 4-3)