From Beatles to Sonics to Storm: Timeline of Seattle Center Coliseum and KeyArena


In the building’s 55-year-history, KeyArena has had many names and many purposes. Here’s a timeline of the venue’s history from the 1960s to the present.

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KeyArena’s future is in flux.

Wednesday saw two big pieces of news on the Seattle landmark, which hosts basketball games, concerts and other events:

One, the city of Seattle released a new request for proposals for the redevelopment of KeyArena, including the possibility of tearing down the 55-year-old venue. Two, AEG president Bob Newman told The Seattle Times his company is focusing on developing a standalone “world class” facility, regardless of whether NBA or NHL teams are first secured for the city.

“That building can be adapted to be a world-class arena that can host anything,” Newman said. “Whether in sports or entertainment.”

Here’s a timeline of the history of the building, which has morphed through the years from the Washington State Pavilion into the Seattle Coliseum and, finally, into KeyArena.

1962: The Washington State Pavilion, designed by architect Paul Thiry, opens as part of the World’s Fair. Among its exhibits: The World of Tomorrow and the Bubbleator.

Post-fair: The city of Seattle buys the Pavilion, turning it into a convention and sports Coliseum. (The Bubbleator is moved to the Food Circus building, now called The Armory, where it stays until 1980.)

Aug. 21, 1964: The Beatles play for 14,300 screaming fans. Tickets: $5. Two years later, they would play two sold-out shows at the Coliseum.

Oct. 20, 1967: Seattle SuperSonics play their first home game in front of 4,473 fans.

Jan. 15, 1974: Sonics host the NBA All-Star Game at the Coliseum.

Oct. 13, 1978: Sonics move from the Coliseum and begin the first of seven seasons at the Kingdome.

June 1, 1979: Sonics win the NBA title.

Jan. 5, 1986: The Sonics return to the Coliseum for the 1985-86 season, and host the first rain-out in NBA history, thanks to a leaky roof.

Feb. 8, 1987: Sonics host the NBA All-Star Game at the Kingdome.

February 1994: Sonics demand the Coliseum be renovated. In exchange for the city issuing 20-year bonds to pay for the $100 million renovation, the Sonics agree to a 15-year lease.

June 16, 1994: Construction begins to renovate the Coliseum. Sonics play at the Tacoma Dome during the 1994-95 season.

Nov. 4, 1995: Sonics play their first game at the newly christened KeyArena. NBA Commissioner David Stern attends and says KeyArena “is very special to me,” and that everyone in Seattle should be proud of the “beautiful building.”

June 1, 2000: The new Seattle Storm of the WNBA play their first home game. Attendance: 10,840.

Oct. 12, 2004: The Storm beat Connecticut to win the WNBA Finals, bringing Seattle its first pro championship since the 1979 Sonics.

July 18, 2006: Clay Bennett and a group of Oklahoma businessmen buy the Sonics and Storm for $350 million, pledging a “good-faith” effort to keep the team in Seattle.

Jan. 8, 2008: Local businesswomen buy the Storm franchise.

Feb. 11, 2008: Bennett offers the city of Seattle $26.5 million if it lets the Sonics out of the final two years of their lease. The city declines.

April 13, 2008: The Sonics play their last game in Seattle, a 99-95 victory over Dallas.

April 18, 2008: NBA owners approve relocating the Sonics to Oklahoma City by a 28-2 vote, with only Dallas’ Mark Cuban and Portland’s Paul Allen voting against it.

Feb. 2, 2009: The Seattle City Council OK’s a decade-long KeyArena lease with the Storm.

Sept. 16, 2010: The Storm cap a perfect run through the WNBA playoffs to beat the Atlanta Dream for a second league championship.

Jan. 11, 2017: The city of Seattle releases a new request for proposals for the redevelopment of KeyArena, giving demolition as an option.