Seattle City Council has authorised Mayor Jenny A. Durkan to execute a Memorandum of Understanding with Oak View Group to redevelop the US city’s KeyArena.
OVG is set to undertake major renovation work at the arena in a bid to transform the venue into a world-class multi-purpose sports and entertainment facility.
Once renovation work is completed, it is hoped the venue will house an NBA basketball team or an NHL ice hockey franchise.
The legally-binding MoU commits OVG to project costs, including all project overruns, $40m in neighbourhood transportation improvements, and a range of additional financial commitments and other obligations.
KeyArena, also known as the Seattle Center, is the current home of women’s WNBA basketball team the Seattle Storm and the Seattle Redhawks, the men’s basketball team of Seattle University. NBA team the Seattle Supersonics used to play at the venue before relocating to Oklahoma City and rebranding as the Thunder ahead of the 2008-09 season.
Councilmember Debora Juarez, co-chair of the council’s select committee on Civic Arenas, said: “We’ve set the stage to make the most significant investment in Seattle Center since the World’s Fair. Today’s agreement was the Seattle Process at its best: We gathered stakeholders, consulted the community, highlighted our concerns and goals, aggressively negotiated, and when we had a solid plan, we pushed it through. I cannot overstate the diligence that went into this agreement. We can all be proud of this transformational partnership.”
The council has been party to a four-month negotiation between the city and OVG to develop agreement conditions. The council also retained a financial consultant to provide independent analysis to make sure Seattle would be party to a fiscally sound agreement.
During its negotiation process, the council signalled that the project must be fiscally prudent; integrate with Seattle Center; address tenant impacts; consider transportation impacts; ensure that workers are treated equitably; and address the needs of impacted neighbourhoods.
The MoU agreement commits OVG to a 39-year lease with two eight-year renewal options for a total of up to 55 years. The project is set to double the size of KeyArena and meet LEED Gold or equivalent standards.
KeyArena was last renovated more than 20 years ago, and a 2015 study found that the arena would need further work if it is to attract a major sports franchise.
The project is expected to cost a total of $600m. Construction work is set to begin at the end of 2018, with an opening date set for October 2020.