Release The Kraken! Why You Should Be Excited About Seattle’s NHL Team

Almost nine months into a global pandemic, most of us have reached the daydreaming stage. Some of us have been daydreaming for months already.

We fantasize about elaborate travel plans or boisterous social gatherings with friends and family. Some of us long for a return to the workplace. A moment of peace and quiet with our children back at school and just out of the house in general (no offense, offspring). 

What we don’t know for certain is when those things will happen, or even if they will at all. It’s part of the uncertainty of this era we are living through.

If you want to add something to your fantasy life to look forward to in the future—something that is a certainty to happen—then start thinking about a certain NHL franchise set to make its debut in the Pacific Northwest in the not-too-distant future. Seattle’s hockey franchise will begin with the 2021-2022 season. 

That’s right. It’s almost time to Release the Kraken. And it’s not just a pro hockey outfit in Seattle to get excited about. It’s a brand-new arena and practice facility, plus a few other things.

The reason this is relevant to right now is that this week the new signage arrived at the construction site that will be the new/old arena. New/old arena? How does that work? It’s a bit complicated, but here is a review of the relevant history.

The arena originally opened in 1962 as the Washington State Coliseum and was rebranded in the nineties as KeyArena. Designed by architect Paul Thiry, the arena was part of the Seattle Center, a sprawling complex that includes the Monorail and the Space Needle. 

The architecture style of the arena is sometimes known as Googie, or, more commonly, midcentury modern. It’s an iconic style of a piece with the Space Needle and the Monorail. Think space-age, 1960s, Jetson’s style. 

The reason this is important is because it led to the keeping of the original, historically important and iconic roof. It has an instantly recognizable aesthetic that harkens back to the golden age of midcentury modern.

How do you design a new arena under an old roof? You put in new posts to hold up the old roof, and then you excavate everything underneath it. Now you have a brand-new arena with all the modern amenities (and much more seating) beneath the old school, Jetsons’ style roof. 

This week they brought the signage for the newly named Climate Pledge Arena. The signage will be raised by Blackhawk helicopter this weekend. Look for it on television and social media. 

But there is more progress going on as we speak. About five miles north of Climate Pledge Arena, on the site of the Northgate mall—America’s first shopping mall, supposedly—they are constructing a new practice facility for the Kraken.

It’s not your granddad’s practice facility. This one is open to the public and will include rinks used for local hockey leagues. It’s also going to have a giant bar and restaurant. Some of the Kraken’s practices will be open to the public. Think of it as a community center combined with the headquarters of an NHL franchise. 

Oh, and they’re also putting the finishing touches on a new light rail station right next to the practice facility. Fans will be able to travel directly between the practice facility and Climate Pledge Arena via light rail (by connecting with the Monorail).

So right around the time that the pandemic and wearing masks everywhere will be in the rearview mirror (fingers crossed), Seattle will have a new/old arena and a hockey team. Plus a practice facility. Plus a new light rail station. 

Just imagine yourself riding on a new train to a new arena to watch a new team. In a perfect world, there won’t be a facemask in sight. 

Does it get any better than that?

Well, it just might. You may recall that Seattle used to have an NBA franchise as well. They were called the Sonics or something. Now they live in the Midwest and are known as the Oklahoma Thunder.

You may or may not realize that many fans pine for a return to the Sonics in the Northwest. This arena could double as their arena. It’s a big step towards luring a basketball team into our region again.

Now, an NBA expansion team is not in the immediate future, as per the NBA. 

But that doesn’t mean we can’t add a basketball team to our fantasies and daydreams.

We’ve been through so much in 2020, forgive us for dreaming big. The future can’t get here soon enough. And someday, it actually will.  

About Paul Redman 92 Articles
Paul Redman is a writer and chef in Seattle who grew up in the Midwest. His work has appeared in print and online, including San Francisco magazine, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Contrary. He eats too many chicken wings and cracks way too many dad jokes and food puns. Follow him on Twitter @predman.

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