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AEG-led Seattle Partners pull KeyArena proposal

And then there was one (for KeyArena at least)

Doug Kerr/Flickr

Citing frustrations with the City of Seattle’s selection process, Seattle Partners, a group which includes AEG, pulled their bid to redevelop KeyArena on Sunday—or perhaps, more accurately, flounced.

That leaves only a proposal from Oak View Group (OVG) on the development project, and, factoring in Chris Hansen’s ever-persistent SODO arena proposal, two proposals for arenas that would court NBA and NHL teams.

“[W]e believe the City has failed to conduct a sufficiently thorough, objective and transparent process to properly evaluate the respective strengths and weaknesses of the two proposals and, most significantly, to identify the proposal best positioned to deliver a project consistent with the community’s interests,” AEG Facilities President Bob Newman wrote in a letter to the Mayor and City Council.

Newman also cited an “unrealistic financing structure.” Seattle Partners had requested use of public bonding to help fund the redevelopment.

Far from ceding the process to their competitor, Newman signed off with a foreboding note about OVG’s proposal: “If the City elects to proceed with that remaining proposal, to protect the public interests of Seattle, it is imperative that you closely and diligently monitor the process to ensure that Oak View Group is held accountable for all elements of what it has very publicly promised to the citizens of Seattle.”

As the Associated Press reported, OVG had been rumored to be the general favorite of the two.

In a statement, OVG CEO Tim Leiweke drove home their proposal’s private funding: "As I have said previously, our project is 100 percent privately financed and built with 100 percent private proceeds.”

“Our chief objective is this: provide the best financial deal for the city, an exemplary public-private partnership, and build Seattle a showcase venue for professional sports, music, and entertainment,” he continued.

In a swift response to the letter, Mayor Ed Murray seemed to scratch his head a little over AEG’s allegations that the city process was insufficient.

“As recently as May 19th, Seattle Partners stated in a mass email: ‘We applaud the City for executing a thoughtful public process. Engaging with teams from the City and the public has strengthened our proposal and crystallized our approach,’” said Murray. “We hope to continue our current relationship with AEG and look forward to addressing our path forward on KeyArena, as well as our commitment to engage the community, in the coming days.”

Other city officials seemed a little more wary. In City Council chambers on Monday morning, City Councilor Rob Johnson expressed some “anxiety” about the process, echoed by Councilor Bruce Harrell.

AEG currently runs operations at KeyArena.


305 Harrison St., Seattle, WA 98109