NHL Seattle breaks ground on new Northgate practice facility

VIDEO: NHL Seattle breaks ground on new Northgate Ice Centre

SEATTLE — Seattle is another step closer to professional hockey after a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday for the team's practice facility, to be known as the Northgate Ice Centre.

"One could get emotional today, because I really tie this back to our fans," said NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke.

He said when 32,000 fans put down season ticket deposits two years ago, team owners decided to go big for the practice facility.

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It will have team offices and locker rooms, but also amenities for the public, including a restaurant, bar and park space," Leiweke said. “A place for our fans to come and feel that it’s their home and a thousand seats overlooking the team ice, pretty cool.”

There will be three sheets of ice, open to the community.

Youth hockey teams will be under the same roof as pro players.

“It’s going to be an incredible opportunity for us to grow the game,” said Kyle Boyd, NHL Seattle’s director of youth and community development.

It’s also an opportunity to reimagine Northgate Mall.

Facing the shift to online retail, Simon Property Group is redeveloping malls over the country, but nowhere quite like Northgate.

"This one is clearly the largest and we're very, very excited about it," said Michael McCarty of Simon Property Group.

In addition to the NHL facility, the new Northgate will have shops and restaurants, two hotels, nearly a million square feet of office space and nearly a 1,000 apartments, all beside a new light rail station.

“We’ve been working on this as a community for a long time,” said City Council member Debora Juarez, who represents North Seattle.

Juarez led the push to bring a practice facility to Northgate.

“We’re building this density because everyone sees this as a showcase,” she said.

Virginia Mason is building a clinic in the facility to provide medical care to both the team and the community.

The privately funded facility is due to open in the fall of 2021, right before the first season for Seattle’s new, and still unnamed, NHL team.