Chris Hansen is not giving up on his SODO Arena project.
Despite rival Oak View Group already securing city approval to renovate Seattle’s KeyArena, Hansen is now pushing a last-ditch plan to build a separate $550 million arena in Seattle’s industrial district and have him wrestle away KeyArena renovations from Tim Leiweke and OVG.
“This is coming from a group that has been chasing it for seven years and has been unable to deliver anything,” Leiweke tells Amplify, saying he wasn’t taking the letter seriously and that Hansen “missed his window of opportunity.”
“This is nothing more than a ghost and we wont pay attention to them,” Leiweke said. “He’s just throwing a piece of paper at the wall and hoping it will stick,” later adding “its time we pull the whole city together and focus on getting two teams at the building while what they are doing instead is divide the community.”
The Hansen last-minute plan is also getting panned at city hall — Hansen submitted the plan months after proposals for KeyArena were due — and he recently submitted a letter signed by 30 individuals, including musicians like Macklemore, Sir Mix-A-Lot and members of the Shins and Guns N’ Roses. The letter calls Seattle to reconsider the OVG-backed redevelopment plan for KeyArena. In the letter, the members of the Seattle music community voice their strong support for an alternative plan for the KeyArena put forth by Chris Hansen, Wally Walker, Erik Nordstrom, Pete Nordstrom, and Russel Wilson.
The letter reads “We believe this privately-financed proposal from a local investment team is the best option to support the vibrancy of the Seattle music community, while also protecting the interests and meeting the expectations of Seattle’s residents.”
The Hansen group’s development proposal seeks to turn the KeyArena into a music and arts space with a a 6,200-seat indoor concert space, a 3,000-seat covered amphitheater, and a 500-seat theater for more intimate performances. The letter states that Seattle’s music community would greatly benefit from an additional mid-size venues at KeyArena, something they suggest is currently missing from the city’s live scene. In addition, the signees believe the renovated musical spaces would compliment the 16,000-21,000-seat capacity a proposed SoDo Arena for large-scale concerts, which the Hansen proposal also calls for.
“These new facilities would enhance local events such as Bumbershoot and the Northwest Folklife Festival and attract other music and entertainment events to Seattle Center, increasing the vibrancy of the local music scene,” the letter reads. “Plus, this plan would truly support the mission and long-term vision for Seattle Center without the negative impacts a larger-scale development would have on surrounding neighborhoods.”
The letter was also signed by Chad Queirolo, VP of AEG Live NW/Bumbershoot and Rob Thomas, VP of AEG Live Pacific Northwest. In June, AEG dropped its bid to renovate the KeyArena, which it had operated since 2008. The decision to withdraw essentially ceded the project to Oak View Group, which has partnered with Live Nation, Madison Square Garden, ICON and Pearl Jam manager Kelly Curtis. In an open letter to the Seattle City Council and the former mayor, who resigned after several accusations of sex abuse, AEG claimed it had “strong reservations” about Oak View Group’s ability to achieve their proposal “consistent with the City’s best interests.”
Oak View Group’s proposal plans to spend $600 million on renovating KeyArena for NBA and NHL use by 2020. The proposal will double the size of the arena and preserve its historic roof. The renovations would be funded by OVG with private equity, financing from lenders, and tax credits. The plan would not require city loans or muncipal bonds. OVG would also be responsible for operations and maintenance costs while retaining some of the revenue from the arena.
While the City Council still needs to approve the final plan, the Request for Proposals for a KeyArena renovation ended in June. The Hansen group’s multiple venue proposal was not announced until September.
On Saturday, OVG sponsored an open house for Seattle residents to discuss designs and traffic ideas. The City Council is expected to vote on a Memorandum of Understanding between the city and OVG as soon as Dec. 4. If it is approved, OVG will break ground either by the end of 2018 or early 2019.