Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review
Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)
SEATTLE - A proposal to remodel KeyArena now has an ambitious timeline that could have it ready to house a professional franchise within three years.
The timeline was laid out in a proposed memorandum of understanding between Seattle and Oak View Group. The Seattle City Council wouldn't vote on a final version of the agreement until the first week of December at the earliest.
Still, the draft agreement is a significant step in the process of redeveloping the city-owned building through a privately financed project that officials believe will finally lure the NHL or NBA - or both - to Seattle. KeyArena housed the NBA's SuperSonics until they relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. Oak View Group believes it can have the building ready by October 2020 if environmental approvals are obtained and demolition can start in October 2018.
The time frame is sure to attract attention, including from the NHL. OVG has not hidden its intentions to be aggressive in an attempt to obtain an NHL expansion franchise soon after the arena agreement is finalized. Likewise, the NHL has not hidden its interest in Seattle, the No. 14 media market in the country and the only market in the top 25 that does not have an NBA or NHL team.
OVG has lined up billionaire David Bonderman and filmmaker Jerry Bruckheimer as the lead owners for a potential NHL franchise.
"From our standpoint, this timeline is geared toward what we believe is the optimal timeline in order to begin to get a team or two for Seattle," OVG CEO Tim Leiweke said.
The project is expected to total about $600 million and Oak View is also on the hook for another $40 million to help improve transportation in the area around Seattle Center. They are also responsible for regular facility upgrades for the life of the 39-year lease agreement. 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.
The project will be financed through a mix of revenue streams. OVG also has financial backing from Madison Square Garden Entertainment.
The negotiations between the city and OVG have come as a similar agreement between the city and investor Chris Hansen is in its final stages. Hansen and the city agreed to an arena plan in 2012 that was contingent on Hansen acquiring an NBA team and included some public investment in a project to be constructed near Safeco Field.
Hansen has since offered a completely privately financed project, but has continued to run into road blocks in getting final approvals to make his arena "shovel-ready" should an NBA team become available. Hansen's agreement with the city expires Dec. 3, meaning OVG's agreement with the city could be approved as early as the week of Dec. 4.Spokesman Review