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The now Climate Pledge Arena was once home to the NBA's first rain delay

Wednesday, January 5th 2022, 11:45 pm - The Coliseum's roof was notoriously leaky, but on January 7, 1986, an NBA game was cancelled because of a rain delay.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


On January 6, 1986, thousands of fans gathered at the Coliseum, a multi-purpose arena in Seattle, Washington, for a Seattle SuperSonics and Phoenix Suns National Basketball Association (NBA) game. The game started on January 6 but was called off after a leaky roof caused the NBA's first rain delay.

The Coliseum is located just north of downtown in the entertainment complex known as Seattle Center. The area opened for the 1962 World's Fair. After the exposition, the arena was bought by the city of Seattle and converted into an entertainment space for concerts, ice shows, circuses, and sporting events.

Seattle Center Coliseum at night, circa 1963 Seattle Center Coliseum at night, 1963. Courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives/Wikipedia/CC BY 2.0

The Sonics' first game at the Coliseum was in 1966, but the poorly constructed roof didn't stop rain from seeping through during storms. On March 5, 1972, the roof leaked and Spencer Haywood slipped in a puddle and injured his knee. Haywood sued Seattle and the NBA and ended up collecting $55,000.

In 1980, the Sonics moved to the Kingdome, a multi-purpose stadium in Seattle's SoDo neighbourhood (it was demolished in 2000), but the City lured the team back to the Coliseum in 1986.

On January 6, the game was delayed nine minutes due to leaks. Early in the second quarter, Phoenix led Seattle 35-24. Bernie Bickerstaff, the Sonics' coach, called a timeout as two players slipped in puddles caused by the ongoing leak.

Fans opened their umbrellas, not necessarily because of the leakage, but more so for cute commentary. After a 55-minute delay, a referee called the game.

In June 2020, Amazon bought the naming rights to the arena and named it the "Climate Pledge Arena" to bring attention to the issue. It will be the first zero-carbon arena in the world, powered exclusively by renewable energy sources. The arena is currently closed as it undergoes an approximate $900 to $930 million renovation. The Climate Pledge Arena is expected to re-open in June 2021.

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Thumbnail: Aerial view of Century 21 World's Fair. Courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives

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