BY SPNW Staff 11:18AM 01/11/2017

Seattle asks for proposals to redevelop KeyArena

The City of Seattle Wednesday issued a request seeking proposals to redevelop KeyArena, including an option of a complete teardown. The deadline is April 12.

Developers will have until April 12 to submit plans for a redone KeyArena./ Sportspress Northwest file

Mayor Ed Murray and the City of Seattle Wednesday issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the redevelopment of KeyArena that includes the possibility of tearing down the 55-year-old facility. Proposals are due April 12, and two Los Angeles-based global arena entities have indicated they plan to participate.

According to the city document, proposers are allowed to submit two plans, one to renovate the existing facility and another to tear it down and build a new one.

“We have a unique opportunity to re-imagine KeyArena and continue the growth and redevelopment of Seattle Center,” said Murray in a statement. “There is significant interest in working with the City of Seattle to create a civic arena that fulfills the current and future needs of our growing city that serves the greatest number of community members.

“I, along with others at the City, are looking forward to reviewing proposals with the community. We are 100 percent committed to finding the best deal for Seattleites.”

The Anschutz Entertainment Group and the Oak View Group, both from Los Angeles, have indicated they plan to respond.

The RFP says that the proposal the city accepts will be responsible “for 100 percent of the funding to complete the redevelopment and construction of the project.”

The RFP lists seven core objectives for the redevelopment for the building constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair and remodeled in 1995. Bidders must adhere to all in their response. The seven:

  • Provide a world-class civic arena to attract and present music, entertainment, and sports events, potentially including NBA and NHL events, to Seattle and the region.
  • Provide for design, permitting, development, demolition and construction of the Arena with minimal city financial participation.
  • Provide for the continuous, successful, sustainable operation of the arena as a world-class civic venue with minimal city financial participation.
  • Provide for mitigation of transportation impacts due to project construction and arena operations.
  • Provide project construction and arena operations in a manner that is equitable for workers and consistent with the city’s race and social justice initiative.
  • Provide for design and operational integration with Seattle Center, contributing positively to the vibrancy of the center.
  • Provide for project design and arena operations in a manner that integrates with and enhances connections to uptown and adjoining neighborhoods.

The city said it will consider redevelopment proposals that extend outside of the existing KeyArena footprint, but added that facilities north of KeyArena, including buildings occupied by KEXP, Vera Project and SIFF Film Center, are not included within the boundaries of the redevelopment site.

Murray will organize a community advisory panel that reviews project finalists and make recommendations. The panel will be announced in the coming weeks.

According to the city’s statement, the RFP was developed with input from “10 city departments in consultation with constituencies from throughout Seattle.”

“The City of Seattle is taking a comprehensive look at Seattle Center and how it can best serve Seattle residents,” said Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams. “This is the time to think about KeyArena’s future. KeyArena hosted more than 500,000 visitors last year alone. A revitalized arena could add an additional 80-100 events per year.”

As for the impact the RFP will have on the current memorandum of understanding for a possible Sodo arena proposed by Chris Hansen, Wednesday’s document said, “The city remains fully committed to the terms of the MOU and is supportive of ArenaCo’s efforts to return NBA basketball and attract NHL hockey to Seattle. However, the city must also consider the potential opportunity  presented by KeyArena should the MOU not be fulfilled and/or the ArenaCo’s project not move forward.”

Hansen, who revised his proposal late last year to make the project 100 percent privately funded, said earlier that he will make a presentation to the city council soon for reconsideration. City officials have been quoted previously as saying it is unlikely they will act on Hansen’s proposal until after they receive RFPs for the Key re-development.

The MOU expires Dec. 3.


  • Howard Wells

    this is great news for Seattle sports fans! A new state of the art sports arena to replace the Key Arena! The city of Seattle will guarantee bonds for the state of the art arena for 17,000 people which will have ZERO, NADA, ZIP new parking spaces. There also will be no new transportation options to get to the state of the art arena. Of course there will be a new Link Light Rail subway station somewhere near the new state of the art arena…although it won’t open til 2031. Parking will be ….entirely within the Mercer St garage that is used for every single event within 2 miles. I hear that the Mayor and City Council will ban competing events within the 2 mile radius of the Mercer St Garage on days that have events in their new state of the art arena.

    • art thiel

      Howard, you’re overlooking the possibilities of a 20-story parking garage.

  • Sonics79

    Man I understand that the City wants to make Seattle Center a destination but I wish they’d give up on the Coliseum – er, sorry Key Arena – idea. The Hanson group’s proposed location is superior for many of the reasons Howard Wells shares with his tongue firmly planted in cheek. The return of the NBA to town would be great wherever the team will play but some locations are better than others. SODO has transportation nearby, no impact on the still not fixed Mercer mess, adequate parking, and everything except support from the Port of Seattle and the Mariners. Sheesh. Forget redoing the Coliseum – damn, sorry again Key Arena – as a multi-purpose facility and use the space for something else already.

    • art thiel

      As much as I agree with your point about the endless recycling, I want to be open-minded about what rich private developers can claim to conjure at the Key, given the topographic and traffic limitations of SLU/Center. The developers think they can fit five pounds into a two-pound bag, so since the proof will be their nickel, let’s have a go.

      It’s not like the NBA is in a hurry to come back to Seattle.

  • Cameric

    Please oh please. Let an asteroid hit the roof of Key Arena, and give this eyesore an excuse to be bulldozed. Even a plot of grass would be better than a new arena at this location.

    • Soniacmazzone

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    • art thiel

      All of the transpo investment in the Mercer Mess failed to keep ahead of the explosive growth of S. Lake Union. And lower QA is ever more populous.

      I will, however, be open-minded regarding the fact that when Bertha is done and the 99 viaduct is gone, there will be three more streets besides Denny that will run east-west from the Center over the tunnel’s north end.

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  • MarkS

    About ten or so years too late.

    • art thiel

      Consider how much else has changed in SEA in the same years.