Seattle has boosted its hopes of attracting an NHL or NBA franchise to the city after a US$660m proposal to renovate the KeyArena was approved.
The Seattle City Council voted a near-unanimous 7-1 for the Oak View Group (OVG) to privately finance the project to overhaul the stadium, which was once the home of the SuperSonics NBA team.
With the ambition of one day luring back the Sonics (who relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008 to become the Thunder) the project promises to transform the KeyArena into a “world class” arena and entertainment venue that will nearly double its current square footage.
Firstly, OVG has been committed to acquiring an NHL franchise and set its sights on achieving that by updating the aging KeyArena, which was built in 1962 and hasn’t seen a modernization since 1995.
The group’s plans for renovation detail preserving the venue’s iconic roof, as well as three of the structure’s four outer walls. The interior of the venue will be demolished and excavated down 15ft, while the footprint of the current site will be increased and a new entry atrium built.
Previous plans by a group led by Chris Hansen to build a new stadium in the city’s SoDo neighborhood were denied by the council; however, OVG’s proposal to upgrade and its promise to contribute US$40m to improving transportation connections around the Seattle Center got the vote.
It is widely understood that NHL has been looking for another expansion team to join following the new franchise in Las Vegas, bringing the total number of teams to 31. With the obstacle of a stadium potentially cleared, it could pave the way for an opportunity in Seattle.
“I’ve said consistently that I’m committed to bring back our Sonics, recruit an NHL team, and invest in our city. Under this plan, arena construction is 100% privately funded and will provide good family wage jobs for decades to come,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.
Should the KeyArena upgrade proposal get approved in an environmental review, OVG believes the new facility will be ready for action by 2020.
December 6, 2017