Photo of KeyArena in Seattle, Washington. Former home of the Seattle Supersonics.

Image Credit: Daniel - Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Seattle, Washington has been without an NBA team ever since 2008 when the Seattle Supersonics were relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. Since then, hedge fund entrepreneur Chris Hansen has been trying to privately finance a brand new arena to be built on a plot of land he owns in Seattle’s SODO district. The SODO District was a formerly an industrial area of the city and is now home to both SafeCo Field (Seattle Mariners) and CenturyLink Field (Seattle Seahawks).

Long story short, Hansen wanted the future arena to be home to NHL and NBA franchises that the city has yet to secure. However, he wanted both leagues to guarantee future franchises before the arena’s construction would begin. That plot has since taken a twist and the city of Seattle is now hoping to completely renovate KeyArena with the hopes of attracting both an NHL and NBA franchise. KeyArena is the former home of the Seattle Supersonics and is also located on the edge of downtown Seattle.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has chosen Oak View Group to perform the renovations of KeyArena. Oak View Group is also assisting the NHL’s New York Islanders and their search for a site for a new arena in the New York City metro area. The renovation costs for KeyArena are expected to exceed $560 million, all privately financed from the likes of Madison Square Garden Entertainment and is expected to be finished by at least 2021. A new Mayor will take the reigns for the remainder of the renovation phase and is expected to make efforts to improve the transportation and roads outside of the arena. The option for a brand new arena in SODO is still a possibility and depends largely on who wins the Mayoral race later this year.

Another group was in the running to renovate and rebuild KeyArena but has since withdrawn their bid. That group was Seattle Partners and was a coalition of AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group) and Hudson Pacific Properties. Seattle Partners intended to utilize taxes on tickets, lease payments to the city and a facility fee to pay for the renovation costs. 

Seattle has an excellent corporate presence and large enough population to sustain four major professional sports teams. All signs point to Seattle landing an NHL franchise before having the chance to reincarnate the Seattle Supersonics. Stadiums such as Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Dolphins), Madison Square Garden (New York Knicks and New York Rangers) and New Era Field (Buffalo Bills) have all undergone major renovations in recent years and completely changed the face and feel of their venue.




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