Seattle Storm relocating during renovations to KeyArena
The Seattle Storm will play the 2019 WNBA season in Alaska Airlines Arena, the team announced Wednesday.
The move comes as their regular home, KeyArena, is set to undergo major renovations, which could begin in October.
“Entering our 20th season as a franchise, we are hopeful and excited to have our stellar fan base fill the seats at the University of Washington Alaska Airlines Arena,” general manager Alisha Valavanis said in the team’s press release. “Our goal was to keep the Storm in Seattle and this beautiful partnership makes that possible.”
The KeyArena renovations are expected to take two years, which will mean the Storm will need a temporary home for 2020 as well. Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel told the Seattle Times‘ Percy Allen the team could return to Alaska Airlines Arena for a second year depending on how the 2019 campaign unfolds.
Brummel also confirmed the Storm will use portable air conditioners in order to abide by a WNBA rule mandating all league arenas be air conditioned.
The Minnesota Lynx ran into the same problem when they have to move playoff games to the University of Minnesota’s Williams Arena.
The Athletic’s Jim Caple noted the Storm may not occupy Alaska Airlines for all 17 regular-season games. Depending on scheduling conflicts with Washington Huskies athletics, Seattle may have to shift a game or two to Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington.
Ultimately, Alaska Airlines Arena is the most alternative for the team. The Storm can stay close to downtown Seattle, and transportation to the venue won’t be too difficult.
This isn’t comparable to the New York Liberty’s move from Madison Square Garden to the Westchester County Center.
Alaska Airlines Arena was renovated in 1999 and seats 10,000. It may be a venue suited for college sports but will more than fulfill the Storm’s needs. If anything, the more intimate atmosphere could give Seattle an even larger home-court advantage for big games.