Home to Seattle University Men's Basketball, KeyArena at Seattle Center, is a centerpiece in the heart of Seattle lore. Seattle U returned to KeyArena, formerly known as the Seattle Colliseum, in 2009. In November 2010, the University and the City of Seattle renamed the basketball floor, Elgin Baylor Court at KeyArena in honor of the Seattle U alum and NBA Hall of Famer.
KeyArena began its
history in 1962 as the Washington State Pavilion for the Century 21
Exposition and Seattle World’s Fair. After the close of the Exposition,
the Pavilion was remodeled as the Washington State Coliseum, one of the
centerpieces of Seattle Center. The Coliseum soon became home to the
Seattle SuperSonics beginning with their inaugural season in 1967. The
Washington State Coliseum later was renamed the Seattle Center Coliseum
and continued to be operated by the City of Seattle.
In addition to serving as home to Seattle U, notable
events during the 1960’s and 1970’s were concerts by The Beatles in
1964 and Elvis Presley in 1970 and the 1974 NBA All-Star Game.
The Coliseum was rebuilt from the ground up between 1994 and 1995,
bringing the arena into the 21st century with state-of-the-art
amenities. The remodeled facility maintained the architectural integrity
of the original hyperbolic roofline by using the existing steel trusses
in combination with four new main diagonal trusses. The wood, steel and
concrete from the demolition were either reused in construction of the
new arena or sold to recyclers. The original acoustical panels, those
attached to the roof that keep the space from echoing, were refurbished
and reused. The court was lowered 35 feet below street level to allow
for 3,000 more seats.
On April 11, 1995, the city sold the naming rights to Cleveland-based
KeyCorp, the parent of KeyBank, which renamed the Coliseum as KeyArena.
The doors opened on the newly renovated arena and home court for the
Seattle Sonics on October 26, 1995. The arena accommodates up to 17,000
for sporting events, and with help from its flexible lay-out it is
adaptable to more intimate gatherings of 5,000 to 9,000.
In 2002, KeyArena welcomed the WNBA Seattle Storm. The Seattle Sonics
continued to play in the arena until 2008. In 2009 this premier large
events venue continued to host dozens of nationally touring concerts,
family shows and conferences. It also welcomed the Rat City Roller Girls.
As of 2011, those rights expired and at some point in 2012 a new naming
right will be announced, and the arena's namesake will change
accordingly. For now, it is KeyArena.