Thursday, July 29, 2010


(Photo: Copywright - Paul Buxton)

Mercer Arena is a part of the Seattle Center complex that also includes the Thunderbirds' current home, the KeyArena. Mercer was built in 1927 and was home to the Thunderbirds alongside the KeyArena (then called the Seattle Center Coliseum) in a venue-splitting arrangement similar to the one that exists in Portland, from their arrival in the Emerald City in 1977 to 1994. It was a U-shaped seating facility that held about 4,000, and until the mid-80s (after the team was renamed the Seattle Thunderbirds from the Seattle Breakers), the end boards at the open end was topped not by glass, but by chain-link fencing. The T-Birds played big games at the Coliseum, and smaller ones at Mercer. In 1994 the city of Seattle announced a major renovation to the Coliseum, and so while the NBA's Seattle Supersonics relocated for a year to the larger Tacoma Dome and the massive Kingdome, the T-Birds played their full schedule at Mercer. When the 1995-96 season opened, the Thunderbirds moved permanently into the KeyArena. Mercer Arena is abandoned today, with a plan currently before the city council to turn it into an opera house.