Mercer Arena is gone now. Opening in 1927 as the Civic Ice Arena, it was Seattle’s first indoor arena, and was one of the last big rinks left from the first great age of arena construction before its 2017 demolition. Walking by the vacant building in 2012, I remember being struck by the blank brick façade, and without knowing much of the arena’s history at that point apart from that it had been a WHL arena at one point, I dutifully snapped a picture and moved on.
It turns out that the original 1920’s façade, complete with gargoyles, was covered over with a concrete and brick portico in advance of the 1962 World’s Fair – decoration being passé at that point in history, and Seattle selling a progressive, modernist version of itself to fairgoers – but it was still there underneath, and it was revealed during demolition in 2017. It’s a shame so few people realized the history of the building before its demolition because of the 1960's renovations, much like the way the original façade of the Montreal Forum was covered over around the same time.
As a WHL arena, Mercer Arena was actually the permanent home of the Thunderbirds between 1971 and 1989, with the nearby Seattle Center Coliseum only used for big games. (In fact, the arena didn't even have plexiglass until the 1980's - it was one of the last anywhere that still had chicken wire above the boards!) In 1989 the Thunderbirds moved permanently to the Coliseum, but still played at Mercer for some games when the big rink’s cavernous size was significantly larger than the crowds they were expecting to draw. The 1992 Memorial Cup was also partially played at Mercer Arena when the expected large crowds failed to materialize for the tournament.
Mercer Arena closed for the last time in 2003 and sat vacant until its demolition, used only as a storage space for the Seattle Opera.
What's the Arena Used For Today?
Mercer Arena was demolished in 2017, and the Seattle Opera currently occupies the site.
If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, please e-mail me at and I'll update the guide.