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Oak View Group Ups Key Arena Bid

Seattle Sonics

The Oak View Group is upping its proposal for a Key Arena, tapping ICON to handle design while bringing on experienced sports executive Lance Lopes

The Oak View Group is one of a few firms tied to a Key Arena renovation proposal, which has been floated by Seattle officials as a possible solution in the city’s pursuit of an NBA and/or NHL franchise. Playing a role in Oak View’s effort to modernize the venue is Lopes, who has plenty of experience in Seattle.

Prior to taking on this assignment, Lopes had held several key positions in the area, including general counsel for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and also the senior associate athletic director for the University of Washington.

While the city is not expected to issue a request for proposal (RFP) on Key Arena until January, the decisions to bring on Lopes will be key to helping the Oak View Group establish familiarity with Seattle officials. More from The Seattle Times:

The Oak View Group, headed by Tim Leiweke, has added former Seahawks and University of Washington executive Lance Lopes to oversee the KeyArena bid effort while ICON Venue Group will head the redesign proposal. ICON was instrumental in the recent two-year, $120 million overhaul of BMO Field in Toronto — the site of Saturday’s MLS Cup final between the Sounders and Toronto FC — and has overseen more arena designs worldwide than any other company.

Lopes, 53, was the Seahawks’ general counsel for 13 years, overseeing operations for them and later the Sounders as well at CenturyLink Field starting in 2000. He headed the search committee that brought Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider to Seattle. Upon leaving the team, Lopes served as senior associate athletic director at the University of Washington from 2014 through last summer.

“For us, we wanted to find somebody that’s from Seattle,’’ Leiweke said Thursday. “Somebody that knows all the different players, somebody that understands the marketplace, the need. And not only the need for a new arena, but also the process that we’re going to have to go through in order to make that happen.”

Leiweke said it isn’t just a matter of dealing with city politicians and the mayor’s office, something Lopes has experience with. It’s also dealing with local stakeholders in Lower Queen Anne and figuring out solutions “at the community level” to make a renovated arena work.

At this point, there are two distinct arena plans that are being pushed in Seattle. One is the Key Arena renovation, while the other is a proposal from developer Chris Hansen to build a new venue in Sodo.

Hansen made a move of his own last week, reaffirming his commitment for a privately financed arena while making various requests of the city and King County.
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