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Mayor Ed Murray convenes arena advisory panel

‘We are paving the way for the Sonics to come home’

KeyArena on a cloudy day with the Space Needle in the background

Today Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced 10-member Arena Advisory Panel to develop recommendations for KeyArena as the city eyes redeveloping the Seattle Sonics’s former home.

Panelists include former Sonics coach Lenny Wilkens, former hockey pro Todd Humphrey, and Sub Pop’s Megan Jasper. Other panelists have background in dining, labor, the Uptown neighborhood, and the nonprofit world.

As Murray ramps up to a KeyArena redevelopment, a longtime, vocal group pushing for a new SoDo arena, led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and recently joined by Seahawk Russell Wilson, remain undeterred.

The group released their most recent plan for an arena near Safeco and CenturyLink Fields in October, despite a defeat for access to land in SoDo by the Seattle City Council back in May. They announced a new proposal for a street vacation earlier this month.

“Approving the street vacation will not interfere with the City’s RFP process for Key Arena,” the SoDo group said at the time. They claim their proposal could be finished sooner and be more attractive to sports franchises.

Hansen has maintained that SoDo is a better option for his group’s ultimate goal: bringing the Seattle Sonics back to Seattle. Still, the Mayor’s announcement makes it clear that the KeyArena development has the same goals. In his statement, Murray says the panel will “pave the way for the Sonics to come home.”

Former coach Wilkens’s statement in the panel announcement doesn’t take sides in the arena location debate: “While I support all options for bringing basketball back, I will be going into this process with my eyes wide open.”

The city issued an RFP in January for plans to both redevelop KeyArena and build a whole new structure on the site. Multiple groups have already expressed interest, including AEG, who already contracts with the city to provide support services to the venue.

The Sonics left Seattle to become the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008, but KeyArena has remained a concert venue and the home arena for WNBA team the Seattle Storm.

KeyArena

305 Harrison St., Seattle, WA 98109