The Seattle City Council will decide Monday whether to approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and Los Angeles-based Oak View Group for a $600 million renovation of KeyArena. Interested observers include the NHL and NBA.
Inside sports business
Nineteen months and two days since the Seattle City Council last voted on a sports-arena project, the NHL and NBA again will be eyeing the dais with keen interest.
Both leagues, especially the NHL in the short term, view Seattle as a potential expansion or relocation site. But they have been disappointed by the lack of progress toward building a modern, state-of the-art arena within city limits.
That could change Monday, as the council decides whether to approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group for a $600 million renovation of KeyArena.
Photos | OVG renderings of KeyArena renovation
Given our city’s recent history, nobody is counting KeyArena as renovated yet. But the conditions entering Monday’s vote are vastly different from the last time somebody tried — and failed — to push an arena plan through council.
That previous vote on May 2, 2016, was for a different project, with entrepreneur Chris Hansen offering to build a new arena in the city’s Sodo District. After ample delays — some caused by Hansen — the project finally came up for a vote.
Hansen needed to acquire a portion of Occidental Avenue South — the street ran through where the middle of the court and center ice would be — and offered to pay millions plus benefits for it. Some council members had doubts about the project’s viability. But ultimately, when voting day arrived, the council was widely expected to approve the project.
In a stunning blow, however, the council rejected Hansen’s plan by a 5-4 margin, effectively killing it. The results were as dramatic as it gets, with Lorena Gonzalez casting the decisive “No’’ vote as audible gasps rose from the packed chambers.
Might that happen again Monday?
Anything’s possible. But OVG did its homework to avoid some of the pitfalls that sank Hansen’s project.
Primarily, OVG built consensus ahead of time with both the council and the community at-large. It never encountered major opposition the way Hansen did with the Port of Seattle, various maritime unions and sports teams in Sodo.
That opposition plagued Hansen’s group up to the vote. OVG has…