The city of Seattle has appointed a 13-member advisory group to help make the call on Oak View Group’s proposal to remake KeyArena. Actual sports fans are included.
Attempting to bring more voices into the prospective KeyArena renovation plan — this is Seattle, remember? — the city administration Thursday announced creation of a 13-member Arena Community Advisory Group, which includes at least two who have sports as a principal priority ahead of the music-first venue proposed by Oak View Group in its winning bid.
According to a statement from the city’s Office of Economic Development, the group’s purpose is to ensure the redeveloped arena connects and integrates with the Seattle Center and nearby neighborhoods and “advise on mobility planning;” partner with the city on labor agreements, and to assure inclusion of women and minority business enterprises.
Barr and Robinson have Facebook pages dedicated to the arrival of the NHL and the return of the NBA, sports that have been the driver for Chris Hansen’s rival arena project in Sodo. OVG proposes to build, for $564 million in private funds, an arena suitable for top-tier concerts and not dependent on having a pre-construction commitment from a winter pro-sports anchor tenant.
CEO Tim Leiweke has said that he has two prospective investors interested in owning an NHL franchise in Seattle, should the remodel plan get underway for opening in 2021. Leiweke has no plan for the NBA, which insists it is not expanding in the foreseeable future.
Regarding transportation, at a recent City Council committee meeting on the arena, OED director Brian Surratt, point man on the Key project, said that a “fully baked” mobility plan should not be expected to be part of a memorandum of understanding between the city and OVG.
That disclosure led to speculation that residents of the densely packed neighborhoods around the Center, which would be impacted by dozens more sellout events from a revived arena, would raise objections.
Perhaps as a result, Cardona and Frausto, two members of the Uptown Alliance, a group representing lower Queen Anne residents and businesses, were named to the advisory panel. Before the selection of OVG was made in June, Uptown Alliance sent the council and Mayor Ed Murray a letter saying it could not recommend either bidder primarily because the proposed transportation and parking impacts were inadequate.
The city earlier announced a group that would represent the city’s interests in negotiating with OVG toward a memorandum of understanding that is subject to approval by the council.
That group includes an independent financial consultant from New York familiar with pro sports venues.
The goal is creation of a memorandum of understanding that would be ready in December, ahead of the expiration of Murray’s term in office. After deciding against a second term because of a sex scandal, Murray declined to seek re-election. He’s done Dec. 31, so the city appears to be fast-tracking the project.
Hansen is seeking a hearing from the council on his revised arena proposal that dropped his request for public funds. His five-year MOU with the city, which specifies basketball-first and requires a street vacation from the city, expires Dec. 3.
Two of Hansen’s partners, brothers Pete and Erik Nordstrom, had an essay published in the Puget Sound Business Journal this week that advocated the superiority of the Sodo site.