NHL Ice Centre to bring new life to Northgate

SEATTLE — As retailers are pulling out of the old Northgate Mall, the local hockey community is celebrating what's being called the "rebirth of Northgate” – the complex for Seattle’s NHL team.

They believe what is now Northgate will become a travel destination for thousands of young hockey players from Seattle to Canada to California.

It might seem odd that NHL Seattle is calling for 3,000 parking spots in a place where the light rail station will be opening at the same time, but people will be driving to the NHL Ice Centre from other states for hockey tournaments, parking there, and filling up a planned hotel.

NHL Seattle unveiled a massive new ice hockey-based complex with a very different appearance than the mall has now – the team headquarters, 1,200 housing units, a hotel, a park and retail stores -- all surrounding three of the only hockey rinks in the city of Seattle, which will be open to the public in 2021.

One rink will have seating for more than 1,000 spectators, and the community rink and the team’s primary training rink will have room for 400 spectators each.

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NHL Seattle says typically, professional sports practice centers are off limits to the public, but at the NHL Ice Centre, fans and players will be able to watch the team up-close, with a new team training in public on numerous days throughout the season.

The group said the facility will be the home for hockey in a five-state region. Having year-round ice in Seattle means opportunity for the rapidly growing numbers of people who play.

“It’s very exciting. The majority of the guys I play with and females I play with live in the city.  And so, they’re all driving outside the city to go play, so this creates an opportunity, even though it’s two years away, we can see it and it’s starting to be tangible,” said amateur hockey player John Barr.

Jaina Goscinski, a 12-year-old hockey player who's become an ambassador for Seattle NHL, says it means more than competition.

“It’s a new way to make friends and stuff like that,” said Goscinski.

“Lately, we’ve had a surge of interest and we’re actually going to run into a problem within a year or two of not having enough space for these girls to play,” said Kelly Goscinski with the Western Washington Female Hockey Association.

Kelly Goscinski says the old Northgate Mall -- a landmark for more than half a century -- will become a place where thousands of youth hockey players and their families will gather from Canada and a five- state region -- who currently all go to other states.

“We go where the hockey is. So now, the hockey’s going to come to us,” said Kelly Goscinski.

The abandoned JC Penney building, which will be torn down, will be replaced with housing and office space.

The complex is scheduled to be finished by 2021, when the NHL will be playing in Seattle.