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KeyArena Renovation Talks Continue

Washington State Pavilion

Talks of a renovation to KeyArena are gathering steam, with Seattle officials focusing on the effect it could have on Seattle Center.

Last week, the often-discussed renovation to KeyArena took a step forward when the City of Seattle issued a request for proposal (RFP) on the project. Responses to the RFP are not due until April 12, but firms are already lining up with their concepts, with AEG and the Oak View Group being the project’s most prominent bidders.

The plan to ultimately secure a privately-financed overhaul of KeyArena is one of two options on the table, with developer Chris Hansen continuing to pursue an arena in SODO. Hansen’s pitch to finance the SODO arena privately could effectively negate a previously agreed upon memorandum of understanding (MOU) that called for him to secure an NBA franchise by the end of this year. That agreement also granted Hansen access to KeyArena as a temporary venue while his SODO venue was built, but he has since waived that right.

That has reset the dynamics of a potential KeyArena renovation. Whereas the future of the arena once seemed tied to Hansen’s effort, Seattle officials are now left with the option to explore some possibilities for its future. This comes as a relief for some, as KeyArena is seen as a vital component to maintaining a strong tax base in Seattle Center. More from The Seattle Times:

The reality is KeyArena was always the critical piece to this yearslong puzzle. It’s a profitable, city-owned facility that studies show will become a money-losing drain on Seattle Center if Hansen’s project gets built in Sodo and siphons away events.

That’s no small detail. It could cost city taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

Overhauling KeyArena has been something that Seattle officials have considered before, as a previously-released AECOM study showed that the venue could be overhauled to NBA or NHL standards. Getting the venue into shape for either league will be key to any renovation pursuit, though there are some signs that an overhaul could move forward even if neither league is ready to commit to Seattle.

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