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Mayor: It isn’t over for Sodo arena project

Speaking to PSBJ, Durkan said “it’s a long shot”—but not impossible

Via Sonics Arena

The agreement between the city and Oak View Group (OVG) to redevelop Key Arena is all set to move forward—which could be seen as the final nail in the coffin to a longtime effort led by Chris Hansen to build an arena in Sodo, since both projects would be courting NBA and NHL teams. But the two projects could theoretically both be built, according to newly elected mayor Jenny Durkan.

Speaking with the Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ), Durkan said that politically, “it’s a long shot.” But one arena does not negate the others.

“Two arenas is not foreclosed,” said Durkan. “They can move forward.”

The investor group leading the charge for the Sodo arena, which includes Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, wasn’t entirely deterred by the Key Arena decision. While the ink was drying on the OVG contract, the group said it’ll hold onto its Sodo property until an agreement is reached to bring an NBA team to Seattle.

“Having two viable arena options puts Seattle in the best position to attract an NBA team,” read a blog post at the time. “If some future NBA ownership group is unable to reach a competitive deal at Seattle Center, having an alternative is vital for the city and Sonics fans.”

The group had an agreement with the city to build the arena, but were denied a necessary street vacation by City Council. The agreement expired last month, but the group is still trying to move the project forward with a new street vacation petition.

“We still believe our proposal to build a 100 percent privately financed arena in Seattle’s stadium district is the best path to bringing back the Sonics,” the group said in a holiday post. “Having a shovel-ready arena project in Sodo will only help Seattle put its best foot forward in attracting the NBA back to our city.”

Under the city’s current agreement with OVG, the developer will spend $600 million renovating the 1962 arena, effectively doubling its size. The project will be funded by OVG with private equity, financing from lenders, and tax credits.