Seattle moves ahead with KeyArena remodel to attract NBA, NHL

Seattle moves ahead with KeyArena remodel to attract NBA, NHL

The Seattle City Council has voted 7-1 to approve a new $660 million package to build a new arena at Seattle Center, perhaps paving the way for a Seattle NHL franchise in the immediate future.

There is widespread belief inside Seattle City Hall that Oak View will now make a serious pitch to the National Hockey League to be an anchor tenant in the new building. On Monday evening, city council approved a memorandum of understanding with a Los Angeles-based company, Oak View Group, that would see the company privately finance a almost $600 million remodel of the KeyArena. It has said it could have the building ready by October 2020 if environmental approvals are obtained and demolition can start in October 2018.

In a separate statement, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said she was, "proud to support a project aligned with the progressive values and shared prosperity for which Seattle is now legendary", as she cast her first vote.

"We feel extremely good about the partnership between the City of Seattle and OVG and respect and applaud the City in its ability to be thoughtful, collaborative, and deal focused throughout this process while maintaining the best interest of its citizens", Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke said in a statement.

KeyArena opened its doors in 1962 and was last renovated in 1995. It is now home to the WNBA's Seattle Storm. Bonderman is an investor in the project and a minority owner of the NBA's Boston Celtics. It had about 570,000 visitors a year ago. Should those upgrade requirements be met, there are two eight-year lease extensions that will be activated, and carry the entire life of the lease agreement to 55 years.

Under the agreement, OVG is responsible for the entirety of project costs, in addition to overruns, along with $40 million in neighborhood transportation improvements over the term of a 39-year lease, as informed by a mobility action plan also paid for by the group. Hansen, who has been seeking a second city council vote on the conditional vacation of a one-block section of Occidential Avenue South for the arena's construction, issued a statement after Monday's vote. In that statement, Hansen argued that having a second arena option in place could put the city in a better position to land an National Basketball Association franchise.

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