key arena seattle

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Last week, the City of Seattle released a Request for Proposals to renovate KeyArena. The city is calling for qualified parties to put forward plans that will allow KeyArena to operate “as a world class civic arena presenting music, entertainment, and sports events, including the potential for NBA and NHL events.”

According to The Seattle Times, the city will maintain ownership of KeyArena, with the chosen developer paying a rental fee and assuming all maintenance and operating costs. Construction will be privately financed, and the developer will be able to earn revenue through the sale of naming rights for the upgraded venue (Vulcan Arena? Amazon Arena? Vern Fonk Arena?), as well as through sponsorships and ticket sales. KeyArena’s iconic roof will have to be kept intact.

The decision to solicit arena renovation proposals comes eight months after the Seattle City Council voted not to sell part of Occidental Avenue South in the SoDo neighborhood to financier Chris Hansen. He had proposed building a $500-million arena in that location (with public bond money covering $200 million of that cost), and the sale was part of that plan. Hansen’s proposal was also contingent upon him securing an NBA team to play at the arena.

Due to a memorandum of understanding with Hansen, the city could not previously discuss other KeyArena options with interested developers. However, over the summer Hansen agreed to allow the city to do so while he reworks his SoDo proposal. He now aims to present the city with a revised, all privately funded proposal for a new arena in the SoDo area.

The city has made April 12th the deadline for interested parties to put forward their proposals. All KeyArena renovation offers will be reviewed before Hansen’s SoDo plan is considered.

Bob Newman, president of Anschutz Entertainment Group, a top contender for the renovation, told The Seattle Times that his company is prepared to finance a major KeyArena remodel regardless of whether NBA or NHL teams are secured first. Anschutz Entertainment Group has managed KeyArena since 2008, and is the world’s largest owner of professional sports franchises, including NBA, NHL and MLS teams.

May the best proposal win. Long live the Seattle Super Sonics!

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