BY Art Thiel 03:08PM 07/20/2017

City appoints group to advise on Key remodel

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.

A community advisory committee has been appointed to evaluate the potential deal to remodel KeyArena. /

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.

Members include:

  • Monty Anderson – Executive Secretary, Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council
  • John Barr – NHL to Seattle
  • Robert Cardona – Uptown Alliance
  • Andrea Caupain – Chief Executive Officer, Centerstone
  • Evan Clifthorne – Project Belltown
  • Brian Curry – 10 Mercer Restaurant and Seattle Center Advisory Commission member
  • Deborah Frausto – Uptown Alliance
  • Ollie Garrett – President, Tabor 100
  • Nicole Grant – Executive Secretary, Martin Luther King County Labor Council
  • Mike McQuaid – South Lake Union Community Council
  • Brian Robinson – Founder, Sonics Rising
  • Sarah Wilke – Executive Director, Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF)
  • Jane Zalutsky – Executive Director, Seattle Center Foundation

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.



  • OVG is not proposing to build an arena with “private funds”, they are calling tax dollars private funds because they think any increase tax benefit is theirs. They are the only people that believe that to be true.

    • art thiel

      They plan to build it with private funds, but the paydown of the construction debt they hope will include as many tax streams as they can scare the city into forking over.

      • SoDo Slayer

        “It Ain’t Necessarily So” by George Gershwin. Lots of inspiration there.

  • SoDo Slayer

    SoDo is the appropriate site for NBA hopes and NHL dreams. It has the proven industrial strength transportation connectivity and flow to take professional sports well into the future. Just look at the Mariners transportation map. As a resident of Queen Anne Hill for over 55 years, I have witnessed dramatic growth. Upzone Uptown has only realized 30-40% of it’s potential. I am not assured in any way by any committee, Council, Mayor or Leiweke that they have the Seattle Center’s and Uptown’s best interest at heart much less the fans supporting the return of the Sonics. I find it frustrating that common sense is lacking in City government and the “Great Seattle Arena Debate” is a good example. KeyArena will not bring back the Sonics. It may very well be acceptable to the NHL, but not to the NBA which will want no “partnership” with the City. Further, Seattle Center will be dramatically transformed into a mini “Las Vegas” culture pumping out concerts and changing the Center’s character. Like the Mayor’s special committee before this one, I see this as a rubber stamp committee doing the bidding of the Mayor and OVG. Not impartial and no transportation or planning experts. Red Herrings and false narratives.

    • art thiel

      Your point about the NBA not wanting a partnership with the city is something I’ve said is at the heart of this. the NBA has no particular reason to trust that the city will be reliable instead of resentful about pro sports. I-91 is still on the books, and the NBA reads that as a drop-dead statement to pro sports.

      • SoDo Slayer

        Any Councilman or woman who places any belief that the NBA is an amiable and willing partner to a KeyArena Redevelopment are self deceiving fools. Initiative 91 passed by 75% of the voters in Seattle rejecting public subsidies of professional sports in 2006. A muddied
        mess of personalities, government, ownership and circumstances conspired to doom the Seattle Super Sonics. Events since then have done nothing to reassure the NBA. Self Deceiving Fools. I like that phrase. Got it from the 5th Avenue’s production of “Catch Me If You Can.” which went on to become a Broadway hit, not Kierkegaard.

        • art thiel

          The test: Will OVG bid meet I-91 requirements? If not, will the council attempt to make I-91 go away?

          • SoDo Slayer

            “Don’t Break The Rules”

  • LarryLurex70

    And in other arena news, OVG parent company Madison Square Garden Company this week filed a claim for damages against the city of Inglewood for entering into an agreement to build a new arena adjacent to an under-construction NFL stadium (within earshot of the OVG-operated Forum) with none other than Clippers owner Steve Ballmer. Lawsuit pending.

    • art thiel

      Saw that. Leiweke is also consulting with Knicks owner James Dolan on team ops. Dolan is prinicipal partner in MSG.

  • LarryLurex70

    Just as I thought:
    Leiweke is full of it and has no inside info nor insight regarding NBA expansion and totally contradicts Adam Silver, if today’s Bleacher Report is to be believed. Silver’s Players Tribune interview with Portland’s C.J. McCollum is worth seeking out, as, as with the remodeled Key Arena option in a previous interview, he specifically speaks to our situation here in Seattle.
    Nice try, Tim.