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KeyArena Renovation Bids in Place

Seattle Coliseum rendering KeyArena

Seattle officials now have two high-profile bids to renovate KeyArena, and potentially bring the venue to modern NBA and NHL standards.

April 12 was the deadline for responses to a previously-issued request for proposal (RFP) from the City of Seattle. As expected, two firms submitted bids. Oak View Group came forward a plan that could lead to an estimated $564 million investment in KeyArena which, after the renovations, would accommodate approximate capacities of 18,350 for the NBA, 17,100 for the NHL, and 19,100 for concerts.

The other bid has come from AEG, which has teamed up with several firms–including Hudson Pacific Properties–to form Seattle Partners. In its bid, Seattle Partners has also sought to bring the venue to the standards of both leagues, with capacities of 18,113 for basketball, 17,120 for hockey, and a capacity of up to 19,202 for concerts.

Seattle Partners renames the arena Seattle Coliseum as part of its proposal, while Oak View Group refers to its concept as the new arena at Seattle Center (NASC).

In their respective executive summaries, Oak View Group and Seattle Partners detailed their funding models. Oak View Group calls on “private equity contributed from OVG, guaranteed by The Madison Square Garden Company and debt financed by Goldman Sachs.” Seattle Partners, meanwhile, will “request to partner with the City to align our goals, and Seattle Partners will guarantee all financing, public and private, through revenues that would not exist but for the renovations proposed for the Seattle Coliseum.”

A city committee discussed the proposals as part of a meeting on Monday. During that meeting, it was stated that a financial contribution  from Seattle could be sought in either project, though some details remain uncertain. More from King 5:

Seattle council member Tim Burgess asked Seattle Budget Director Ben Noble at the Seattle City Council’s first Select Committee on Civic Arena whether AEG and the Oak View Group planned to use “public funds to assist this enterprise in some way.”

“I think that’s fair, and in the context of a public arena, they think that that’s appropriate,” Noble replied.

It’s unclear just how much, however.


Noble pointed out that the offers come with the assumption that the City would retain ownership of the land, but with upkeep “there is an acknowledgement those costs be shared.”

Another important factor in both proposals is the design. Both bids include designs from major firms, and each looks to address the issue of how to preserve some of KeyArena’s more distinguished features–including its famed roofline–while making the necessary changes to modernize the venue.

Oak View Group KeyArena

The design submitted by Oak View calls for lowering the arena’s floor, which could help make for a steeper seating bowl. More from The Seattle Times:

“To make it work, you’ve got to really want to be in there,’’ said Chris Carver, senior principal with the POPULOUS firm and lead architect on OVG’s design proposal. “Because it’s not easy. You’re going from a 330,000-square-foot building to an almost 660,000-square-foot building.’’

The solution from Carver’s team was dropping KeyArena’s floor 15 feet underground to free up space.

“The secret is actually going down and spreading out,’’ he said.

In the Seattle Partners proposal, the arena’s roofline would be expanded in order to allow for more space inside the venue. More from The Seattle Times:

AEG president Bob Newman described it as an enormous architectural challenge in which its design team — including major architectural firms Gensler and Rossetti — was put in a room and told to exit with only its best idea.

The group’s solution? Extending KeyArena’s roof over unused land on the venue’s south side and then walling around that to create additional interior space.

“The renaissance moment the design team had was when they fixed the back-of-the-house space, everything else became fixable,’’ Newman said. “I think in the past everyone was focusing on the seating bowl and capacities … and when the architects finally figured this out, all of a sudden a domino (effect) of positives happened for the rest of the building.’’

Discussions on the bids are expected to continue for the next couple of months. Developer Chris Hansen has also proposed a plan to construct a new venue in the city’s Sodo neighborhood.

Rendering of Seattle Coliseum courtesy Seattle Partners. 

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