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NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke poised for KeyArena renovations

NHL Seattle Franchise CEO Tod Leiweke said he's poised for KeyArena renovation ahead of NHL announcement. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - The NHL still has not guaranteed Seattle an NHL franchise.

But Seattle franchise CEO & President Tod Leiweke believes things are moving in the right direction after he met with NHL Commissioner Bettman two weeks ago.

“We showed up at his office with a number of open issues, and we left his office that day with very few open issues,” Leiweke said in an interview with KOMO News at his Seattle office on Thursday.

“He’s [Bettman] very, very encouraged by what he sees. He knows that we have experienced hands at work here and he’s cheering us on," said Leiweke.

After initial speculation that Bettman could announce the newest NHL franchise at the Board of Governors meeting in June, the commissioner chose to table the discussion.

The next announcement could come at a September Board of Governor’s meeting.

KOMO News reached out to the NHL on Thursday. While New York is usually the location for the September Board of Governors meeting, a date and agenda has not been set.

“We believe that all of this can happen by 2020 and that’s our plan and we’re building accordingly. We’re driving the business, the decisions for puck drop 2020,” said Leiweke.

That confidence was felt at Seattle City Hall on Thursday as city leaders updated the Council on the progress of the renovation project at KeyArena.

The latest timeline published by the Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects calls for the final Environmental Impact Statement to be published August 30.

The City will then go through a series of meetings before a vote to turn over operation of KeyArena to the Oak View Group by October 15.

Watch: Full interview with NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke

Leiweke said the Oak View Group’s pace has also picked up as they plan to name a building contractor next week and announced a series of local investors in the coming months.

This is not the first time Tod Leiweke has been a part of speedy renovation processes.

In 1993, he helped guide the Vancouver Cannucks to open their new arena in about two years, two months. In 1998, he spear-headed a two-year, three-month construction process at the Xcel Energy as President of the Minnesota Wild.

“Well you’ve got to be precise. And even though I’ve been through some of these experiences before, you can’t take anything for granted,” said Leiweke.

Leiweke said this renovation will transform KeyArena from about 400,000 to 750,000 square feet.

Crews will also dig about 15 feet below the ground, while maintaining the roof structure, which received historic landmark status August 2017.

Marshall Foster with the Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects told councilmembers that the project is now estimated to cost $700,000, one-hundred million more than initially estimated.

Leiweke confirmed the new pricetag.

“We’re going to build this building in the most-responsible way possible. They [new contractors] were chosen in part by the ideas they had on how we’re going to do demolition to the current building and build the new building. The roof stays, and there’s a lot of things we can do to contain the construction within and under that roof,” said Leiweke.

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