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.
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 Rollergirls and Seattle University Men’s Basketball in its return to NCAA Division I competition.