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Two proposals submitted for KeyArena redevelopment

Two proposals enter, one proposal goes where KeyArena is

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

The City of Seattle has received two proposals for redeveloping KeyArena, the Office of Economic Development announced late Wednesday after the city’s RFP (Request for Proposals) window closed.

The proposals both come from development groups that have been vocal about their intent to participate: Oak View Group (OVG) and Seattle Partners, which includes Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG).

Both would renovate KeyArena instead of building a new structure in its place, and were developed with NBA and NHL teams in mind—plus an increased capacity for entertainment.

OVG’s proposal for “the arena at Seattle Center” would have a capacity of about 17,000 to 19,00 depending on the event, and would include 16 event level “bunker” suites and 40 sideline suites above the main concourse.

The venue would also include a large club space, plus a restaurant and bar facing the Space Needle.

Traffic mitigation plans include accommodating transit and offering discount fares. A spokesperson for OVG told KIRO Radio they’d also integrate ORCA card fares into the Monorail system—something that’s been a long time coming.

As part of their proposal, OVG offers $20 million in public benefits, including $10 million to YouthCare and $3 million in public art.

OVG estimates $18.5 million in net revenue in the first year.

Seattle Partners, which also includes Hudson Pacific, would transform KeyArena into the “Seattle Coliseum,” which would have a similar size and capacity to the OVG proposal.

It would also include integration with transit, including planned light rail and some use of the monorail, reports the Seattle Times. The proposal estimates $144 million in surplus revenue to the city over the course of a 30-year lease.

While Seattle Partners proposal didn’t name a specific figure in their executive summary, they nod to a developing partnership with Plymouth Housing Group. They would also partner with KEXP and the Vera Project to develop the Northwest Rooms Courtyard, which all three border.

Seattle Partners and OVG both name-check the Seattle Storm, the basketball team that currently calls KeyArena their home court. The Partners proposal says they’re “committed to the team as an anchor tenant.”

Both plans would double or nearly double the size of the arena—OVG within the existing footprint by digging down 15 feet, and Seattle Partners by extending the building to the south, reports the Times.

Seattle Partners’s Coliseum, as pictured in their proposal to the city
Via Seattle Partners

The RFP asked that proposers “be responsible for 100 percent of the funding to complete the redevelopment, construction, and operation of the new Arena.” OVG would spend $564 million constructing their arena; Seattle Partners would spend $520 million.

The proposals both estimate their project could be done by October 2020.

In a statement, Office of Economic Development Director Brian Surratt called both proposals “strong.”

The city will evaluate the proposals in three channels. One is a 10-member arena advisory panel, which includes former Sonics coach Lenny Wilkens, former hockey pro Todd Humphrey, and Sub Pop’s Megan Jasper, plus representatives from dining, labor, the Uptown neighborhood, and the nonprofit world.

City staff will also review the proposals alongside the advisory board. Both groups will present their recommendations to an executive review team, who will make a final recommendation to the Mayor.

The Seattle City Council has also convened a committee to discuss arena options, including the KeyArena proposals and a the latest proposal for a SODO arena from Chris Hansen. Their next meeting on April 17 should include discussion of the KeyArena RFP.

The Seattle Sonics, who left Seattle in 2008 to become the Oklahoma City Thunder, are a key motivation in both this redevelopment project and the SODO proposal.

“We have the best chance to date to bring basketball back to Seattle, wherever that may be,” said Coach Wilkens in a statement.


305 Harrison St., Seattle, WA 98109