The Sonics Arena Investment Group, an investment company led by Seattle native entrepreneur Chris Hansen, as well as former Seattle SuperSonic Wally Walker, Erik Nordstrom, Pete Nordstrom and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson presented to the city of Seattle a new design concept for the KeyArena that would follow the completion of construction of the group’s new SoDo Arena. The incentive proposes to privately finance and build three thew venues in Seattle, The SoDo Sports Arena, The Seattle Center Concert Venue and The Seattle Center Amphitheater, however the Seattle Office of Economic Development issued a prompt reply stating that “If the SoDo Arena Group was interested in redeveloping KeyArena, they should have submitted their proposal during the RFP process, which would have shown a willingness to work with the City on this project.”
The crux of the investment group’s KeyArena proposal focuses on redeveloping the venue into two mid-size concert venues and a 500-seat theater, according to the proposal. The arena would be split in half, “with a 6,200-seat indoor concert venue on one side and a 3,000-seat outdoor, covered amphitheater that flows outward toward the Seattle Center fountain on the other side,” stated the proposal.
If the SoDo Arena Group was interested in redeveloping KeyArena, they should have submitted their proposal during the RFP process
The Sonics group see KeyArena as a complement to their SoDo project as a mid-size development, while the arena they are proposing would provide 16,000-21,000-seat flexible capacity. This way, the combination of these venues would be superior, argues the group, “to a single, site-challenged sports venue at KeyArena.”
Yet, the city’s Office of Economic Development issued a prompt rebuke of the proposal. In a statement issued by Joe Mirabella, the city stated that pursuant to its request for proposal, which was issued in January 2017, two strong redevelopment proposals had been received from Oak View Group and Seattle Partners (AEG), by the deadline. These proposals were reviewed by the staff, community and outside experts against the criteria outlined in the RFP.
“Oak View Group’s proposal was the strongest of the two, so they were selected,” said Mirabella in a statement. “[The Sonics Group] did not submit a proposal and continue to show no interest in working in partnership with the City.”
The statement also indicated that the city was well under way negotiating a memorandum of understanding with the Oak View Group and plan to submit the memorandum to city council in the near future. “We are excited about the future of the Seattle Center Arena and grateful private investors are committed to investing more than half a billion dollars in a venue designed to attract the NBA, NHL and outstanding music and entertainment,” the statement concluded.