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Preview your KeyArena options at KEXP this Thursday

What should the future of the Key look like?

Doug Kerr/Flickr

Last month, the city’s request for proposals was met with two plans for redeveloping KeyArena: one by Oak View Group (OVG) and another by Seattle Partners, a group that includes Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG).

The public can access the plans or provide comments online anytime, but for an in-person look and back-and-forth, the city is hosting an open house this Thursday, May 11.

The proposers will attend the open house at KEXP’s gathering space to answer any questions the public might have—and show off their plans. It runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and attendees can show up any time during that period.

An exterior rendering of Seattle Partners’ plan.
Via Seattle Partners

The Seattle Partners plan, designed by Gensler, would rebrand KeyArena to “Seattle Coliseum,” create a half-acre pedestrian plaza at First Avenue and Thomas Street, add ground-level retail, and work with KEXP, SIFF, and the Vera Project to develop their outdoor plaza into an outdoor entertainment space.

An exterior rendering of OVG’s plan.

The OVG plan for the Seattle Arena, designed by Populous, would include two tri-sided scoreboards on either side of the court for hockey and basketball, a large club space, plus a restaurant and bar facing the Space Needle.

Both plans would create an arena with NBA and NHL teams in mind, as well as entertainment. They would also both keep the iconic roof design. They’d both seat around 17,000 to 19,000 people depending on the kind of event.

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.

Seattle’s existing WNBA team, the Seattle Storm, still uses KeyArena as a home field. Both proposals would honor the city’s agreement with them, although Seattle Partners seems more enthusiastic: “The Seattle Storm are critical partners in our success and we are committed to the team as an anchor tenant of the new Seattle Coliseum.”

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, who approve certain steps necessary for development, like street vacations, 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.

City staff will bring final recommendations to the mayor by the end of June.