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New plans further arena evolution

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A view of the new entrance atrium from the southwest

The Oak View Group and its architectural firm Populous released new plans today for the renovation of KeyArena. The new designs were put in place in order to address community concerns about foot traffic and congestion, Populous’ Geoff Cheong told KING5 in a phone interview.

The new plans show new, detailed images of the entrance atrium, which is the biggest change to the building’s exterior in the $600 million renovation. The atrium will be the main entrance to the arena, with entry points on the east, west, and south sides. It is 360 feet in length and encased in glass for 360 degree views. Cheong told the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker that the atrium “offers a contemporary and definitely transformed arrival experience and amazing first impression.”

The new plans also include a Space Needle Club, where the iconic structure will be visible through the ceiling. Cheong called it “a fantastic space that has views right into the arena seating bowl… and it has views into the atrium and a neat, kind of carved away skylight view to the Space Needle as well. It’s kind of a dynamic space tucked under the historic roof and just fantastic kind of connected views as well.”

The new plans also feature a new look at the seating bowl, although it is one that was previously featured as a background on NHLSeattle.com (OVG special project director Lance Lopes notes that the red in the rendering should not be taken as an indication of intended color schemes, saying “any inference on the color scheme is strictly speculation.”). Cheong says the lower bowl will feature regular seats as well as club seats and “ice level suites.” Just above the lower bowl will be the suite level, with “opera boxes” on the south end and club seating to the north. The third level up will be the main plaza level where patrons will enter. There is also a fourth level, dubbed by OVG as the “bridge level.” It will feature press boxes and room for 300 additional spectators.

The ceiling will now feature an “acoustical cloud,” intended to enhance audio quality for concerts, according to OVG Director of Operations Steve Mattson. The arena will also feature of a first-of-its-kind dual scoreboard system. There is also new LED signage visible in the new plans, including a giant screen that is visible from the plaza outside. “When they come into this arena for the first time, it is going to look and feel completely different from what they are used to,” Cheong said.

What do you think of the changes? Keep in mind that NHL season ticket reservations can be made starting Thursday at NHLSeattle.com.