The arrival of an NHL franchise in Seattle has prompted the rebuild of the Key Arena. Part of Seattle Center, Key Arena is a pyramid structure. It did not have the capacity for supporting an NHL franchise so a major rebuild was undertaken. The roof structure was kept but everything else was rebuilt. They gutted the place and dug down into the ground to effectively double the capacity of the facility.
It opened in mid October. There was a pre-opening event with the Foo Fighter playing but the official opening was a Coldplay concert on the Friday followed by the Seattle Kraken home opener on the Saturday. On the Sunday, they had an open house for people to come and check out the arena. There was no likelihood of me missing something like that. However, the weather was not looking great. They had a market and some bands outside but the rain also decided it wanted to be there. This was not a problem inside the arena but it did make the outside a bit less appealing. Still, it was fun to check out the new event space.
The ice hockey arena was open to view rather than covered up for other events. There were a couple of players working on the ice for a while but it was mostly empty. The Zamboni machines did come out to polish the ice though. There are plenty of interesting food and drink spaces around the venue. Pricing will be what you expect of a sports arena but they did look a lot nicer than you might see at older venues. The structure of the building has been preserved to some extent and you can see interesting shapes in the roof line. Outside it is easier to appreciate the old roof structure. Inside they have all sort of space for lighting and show installations and there is acoustic treatment for the roof to make it work as a concert venue.
It is now renamed the Climate Pledge Arena. The group that is supporting it is significantly backed by Amazon. They have designed the location to make use of renewable resources as much as possible and it is supposed to be incredibly environmentally sound. No doubt that will annoy some people – if you are annoyed by somewhere not polluting somewhere, have a think about your priorities. The venue already provided good income to the city and the new operators have to provide that income to the city whatever they achieve. This is a nice change from the usual approach of cities subsidizing major sports franchises. We shall see how they get on.
Our days living in Chicago included a lot of bridge raising experiences. The bascule bridges along the Chicago River were a constant source of interest to me and, despite seeing them raise regularly during the spring and fall boat runs, I never got bored of it. There are a bunch of bascule bridges in the Seattle area too. One of the older ones is the bridge across the Montlake Cut near the University of Washington.
I took a bike ride that cross Lake Washington on the 520 bridge and that then turned up to the university and across the Cut. Just as I started across the bridge, the warning tones started. I was already heading across so didn’t stop but, once on the other side, I did pause to watch the bridge open. It took me right back to my Chicago days. I didn’t wait for it to lower again because I wanted to keep going on my ride but a fun thing to see again. I imagine the traffic backups make the bridge openings a little less popular with motorists and I suspect I would have been a bit miffed if I had been a few seconds later! I hope they turn the power off for the wires!
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial has been under construction for a while including the restoration of the B-52G, Midnight Express that spent many years outside at Paine Field. The opening ceremony took place over the Memorial Day weekend and I went along to check it out. I wrote an article for GAR about the ceremony and, if you want to read that, you can see it here.
The article includes most of the good images from the event so I won’t duplicate it all here but instead I shall just post a couple of shots that summarize what happened.
SeaTac may be the main commercial airport for Seattle but there is now a second airport for mainline service. Paine Field has opened its new terminal and commenced service. I had a trip to make so decided to give it a go. Not only is it closer to home but parking is cheaper and the prices for flights were pretty low. Time to give it a go.
It took me a while to find the long stay parking. The signage was useless. When I returned to pick up my car, I noticed that they had added new signs and had people hanging around in the access roads asking if you needed help. Could have done with them before. Interestingly, when I returned to pick up the car, the long-term lot was marked as full. Not sure how well that is going to work out. They did have some additional parking under construction.
The terminal itself is very nice. They were still debugging the check in systems at the Alaska desk when I got there. The process of handing over my bag was a little confused but, since there were only two of us at the two desks, it wasn’t like there was a lengthy delay. Similarly for the security line, while the website said there was TSA Pre, there wasn’t. I had to remove all of my camera gear from the bags but, again not many people there so it was easy to get done quickly.
There are two gates in the terminal itself. I never saw more than one plane on a gate at a time but, as other airlines start service, I imagine it will be a bit busier. There were sections of the waiting area that were empty for now so it has the ability to cope with more people. The gate area itself is very nice. Comfortable chairs and nice decorations, combined with a bar make it feel more like a dining location than an airport. Very cozy. There was a Beecher’s Cheese location apparently under construction which might be good for a snack when it opens soon.
The services were being operated by Embraer E175-E1s. There were plenty of ground staff to deal with the flights. There seemed to be loads of them and, with plenty of time between the flights, they didn’t seem over taxed. However, I suspect there was still a lot of training underway – hence the excess staff. Loading didn’t take long and then it was off to the runway, past the Boeing flight line and then departure. I found it a great way to get a flight and, with a surprising number of destinations available, I hope to use it more. It is certainly more convenient for me than SeaTac.
I picked up the Oklahoma City
streetcar from the stop across from my hotel.
There are two routes in the city – one that runs around the downtown
area and another shorter loop that goes from the convention center development
area back to Bricktown. The car I got
was on the Bricktown Loop and, since I wanted to do the full run, I hopped off
at the next stop and waited for the next car.
I got on board along with a guy that
had come to check it out despite his skepticism. He ended up meeting a few people he knew and
seemed pretty impressed by the whole thing.
The vehicles have a battery system on board which allows them to run for
periods without overhead wires. This is
particularly helpful where the line runs under the main railroad. The bridges there are too low to allow for
overhead wires so the system involves periods on battery and periods on wire
when the batteries can be recharged,
Lots of people were out making use of the
free introductory period. Given that it
was a Friday, this was a good indication.
Hopefully the system will prove to be a success. It is part of a number of measures that the
city is implementing to improve the live ability of the area. I wish them well.
I used to make regular trips to
Oklahoma City for a streetcar project I was working on. I ended up having to pick up another project
which meant I dropped the streetcar project when the vehicle contract had been
approved and signed and my colleague took on the delivery phase. However, I promised I would be back for the
grand opening. Mid December was the time
when the system was opened up.
Fortunately, I was already within
three hours of OKC for another project so I drove up for the celebrations. The project team had a dinner the night
before which was a great chance to get back together with some old faces. The opening was on the following
morning. We had an early photo session
with project team members at 7:30 on a chilly Friday. The main opening ceremony started at
10:00. It was still pretty cold but
plenty of people had shown up for the evening.
Speeches from those involved and then it was time for the first rides.
I skipped the initial runs and instead
went to have a look at the maintenance facility that had been constructed as
part of the project. It was a nice job
that had been put together by all involved.
After checking it all out, I parted ways with my old colleagues. Before heading home, it was time to ride the
full route. That will be another post.
The movement of boats to Lake Michigan is a spring event with the bridges along the Chicago River being opened to allow the boats to get by without having to remove their masts. It happens every spring and they all return each fall. After many years in Chicago, you would think I had got bored with this but I still find it a really cool thing to watch. They move on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I often don’t realize it is happening until I look out of the window and see the bridges up. I decided this year I wanted to see a little more of it.
I got out to the river when the boats were at the join between the north and south branches. This section of the river has a bunch of bridges but they seem to have a pattern of opening them in quick succession with multiple bridges open at once. As they get up to Michigan Avenue, they do each bridge one at a time to minimize the traffic disruption since the cars get backed up while the bridges are open. A Saturday often results in a few more boats and this was no exception.
I am actually cheating a bit here since, when I first started putting together this post, I had been out to watch a run of the boats. Before it is finished, though, another week had passed and another run of the boats took place. The weather was also slightly better. I decided to go out with the fish-eye this time to get something a little different to add to the collection so now the shots are a little more diverse and, hopefully, a little more interesting.