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RFP issued to re-imagine Seattle’s KeyArena

NBA Basketball, anyone? How about hockey?

Jeramey Jannene

Mayor Ed Murray wants to “reimagine KeyArena and continue the growth and redevelopment of Seattle Center,” which sounds like a lot more than shifting around some seats and putting up new lights.

An official Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued by the City of Seattle to do more than reimagine KeyArena. The plan is to renovate the arena and some of the surrounding buildings in a way that “creates a premier entertainment venue for our City and region.”

KeyArena is already a busy place, with about a hundred events per year. The goal is to roughly double that. It already is a venue for music and other entertainment; but patient Sonics fans will understandably pay attention to the specification that the new space meet NBA as well as NHL requirements. That doesn’t mean teams are lined up and ready to play, but the growth of the city and a long history of negotiations suggests that it may be time for a men’s basketball team to return after their 2008 departure. Thanks to the Seattle Storm of the WNBA which has played there since 2000, professional basketball has been played there in the interim.

Renovations of such significant structures aren’t easy or simple. The previous Arena renovation was in 1995. The RFP opens the options to another renovation, or even a removal, if necessary. Other buildings like the Seattle Center Pavillion, a parking garage, and Pottery Northwest could be involved.

As a revenue generator, KeyArena actually makes money. The high point was one year with $1.2M in revenues. Adding a hockey team and another professional basketball team should definitely impact that. Other impacts are traffic, neighborhoods, and history. The arena isn’t an official landmark, yet; but it considered to be part of Seattle Center’s ‘Jewel Box of Wonders.’ There will be plenty of stories with details over the next several years.

In the Frequently Asked Question section of the RFP, the city points out that;

“We are in the midst of a holistic Seattle Center planning and visioning process that includes a mobility strategy. Given the age of the building, KeyArena does not meet current standards, and this creates an opportunity to develop a world-class arena.“

Proposals are due April 12, 2017. The building’s condition is to be considered “as-is“ and everyone should expect “minimal City financial participation.”