BY SPNW Staff 01:10PM 06/07/2017

Murray taps Oak View to lead arena remodel

In announcing Oak Group as the winner in the plan to remodel KeyArena, CEO Tim Leiweke said partners had joined the bid, including Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer to be an NHL owner.

Oak View Group’s plan was deemed better by design and financing. / Oak View Group

In a bit of an anti-climax after the withdrawal of Seattle Partners (AEG), Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Wednesday afternoon selected Oak View Group, led by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff, to lead a $564 million remodel of KeyArena. Murray’s selection of Oak View comes five days after the rival group dropped out of the competition to renovate the facility.

In an interview with KING5 ahead of announcement, Murray outlined how he came to the decision and the next steps.

“Oak View Group really is building an entire new arena under the current roof,” Murray said. “It’s not just a remodel, but a completely new arena.”

Murray, who said he made the decision Friday before Seattle Partners dropped out Sunday, said his team  determined that Oak View’s plan to dig 15 feet down and expand the facility to 660,000 square feet was a better design feature.

He also told KING 5 that Oak View’s finance package looked better —  Seattle Partners’ decision to ask for $250 million in municipal bonds made it a non-starter — but that it will now get a thorough vetting in front of the Seattle City Council, who will receive Murray’s recommendation.

Murray’s selection will start a negotiating process between the city and Oak View, including, in Murray’s words, “how to work out some of the issues we’re concerned about, such as transportation, making sure it integrates with Seattle Center and integrates with the neighborhood.”

Murray said he made his decision Friday after consulting with his staff and an arena advisory council.  He wouldn’t say, or put a price tag, on just how much money needs to be invested in transportation.

“They really have got to come up with a proposal that works with moving people from outlying areas through some sort of transit system, buses or the like, to make this work, until the light rail station is up and running,” Murray said.

At the press conference on the Seattle Center lawn just east of the Key, Leiweke disclosed that two wealthy partners had joined in the group: Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Boston Celtics minority owner David Bonderman, a University of Washington graduate.

Both are rabid hockey fans, and were said to be lead investors for an NHL team, either an expansion team or a relocated one.

Leiweke made clear that the NHL was coming first, since the NBA, the priority for Chris Hansen and his proposed arena in Sodo, has shown no indication it is exppanding in the foreseeable future.

Leiweke’s introduction of potential owners was meant to quell the contention that OVG was more interested in the concert business than in pro sports.

The city council will review the recommendation, and also consider whether to grant Chris Hansen’s request for a street vacation sometime in September. The council will have the final say between KeyArena and Hansen’s plan.



  • Jafabian

    So how is this a better plan than a privately financed arena? And who is going to own the sports franchises that Murray is confident will be knocking down the doors to come here? Too many questions and not enough answers. And like Mayor Nickels before him. if things don’t work out it’s not Mayor Murray’s problem since he’s a lame duck.

  • Eric Sirkin

    Invest $200 Million to improve the Mercer Mess; then, turn around and save $150 Million by choosing KeyArena to pump out 200 or more “World Class” Events. Easy.
    Good choice. Wise. And, you can count on future generations benefiting from
    the . . . improved Mercer Street. Generations.