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Seattle City Council approves Key Arena renovation agreements

The $700 million project can move forward—with completion scheduled for 2020

Populous/Courtesy of Oak View Group

In an 8-0 vote Monday, the Seattle City Council approved agreements with the City of Seattle that allow redevelopment of Key Arena to move forward. Under city agreements, the Seattle Times reports, necessary demolition can start after a National Hockey League (NHL) franchise is secured, which could be later this year.

Arena Co, the team renovating Key Arena in the hopes of courting an NBA or NHL team (Key Arena is already home to three-time WNBA champions the Seattle Storm), announced a full, $700 million renovation plan this past summer. Skanska, a developer that’s currently building a tower at Second and University, and AECOM Hunt will be completing the work, which involves increasing the stadium’s capacity and decreasing its environmental footprint while keeping its iconic roof.

Arena Co is led by Oak View Group (OVG), which was selected to renovate the arena last year.

The work will be done by digging below the surface to expand the stadium’s square footage and capacity, but leaving the exterior appearance untouched. When it’s all done, the arena will a 17,400-person capacity for hockey and a 18,600-person capacity for basketball, plus 750,000 square feet of interior space.

The project was originally slated to cost $600 million, paid for by OVG and private equity, but some additional project upgrades, like dedicated locker rooms for theoretical future NHL and NBA teams and the Seattle Storm WNBA team, who already call Key Arena home.

The building also includes a Space Needle view club.

Populous, courtesy of Oak View Group

Under the agreement, Arena Co will pay the City of Seattle a minimum of $5 million a year, which is around the city’s current revenue from the arena, the Seattle Times reports. Revenue beyond that will be split between the group and the city. The city will also have 14 rent-free days to use the arena, including for a four-day free medical clinic and for Bumbershoot.

The arena group’s initial lease will be for 39 years, with options for extensions.

An NHL team is expected to come along with the newly renovated stadium—33,000 people have already put down season-ticket deposits, and a team of investors is meeting with the NHL Board of Governors on October 2—but an NBA team is a little farther off. Still, the new Key Arena will host what the old one already does: Seattle Storm games and concerts.

The stadium could open in 2020.


305 Harrison St., Seattle, WA 98109