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Sodo Group Releases Comparison to KeyArena Plans

Seattle Sonics

Seeking to underscore its case, the group backing a proposed Seattle Sodo arena has released a comparison to the KeyArena renovation bids, highlighting the need for public subsidies for the KeyArena project.

Seattle has multiple options on the table for developing a new or modified venue, including the proposed KeyArena renovations and the concept of a venue in Sodo. The pitch for the Sodo arena, which comes from a group that is being led by Chris Hansen, has been modified to include private financing.

Meanwhile, a KeyArena renovation could be completed by either Oak View Group or Seattle Partners, both of which responded to a request for proposal (RFP) from the City of Seattle last month. Either of those plans would raise the arena to modern NBA and NHL standards, and seek to address existing traffic and accessibility issues with venue.

The Sodo group, however, is making the case that its plan comes with a reduced risk for Seattle. Among the specific issues addressed in its comparison is the financial models of the proposals submitted by Oak View Group and Seattle Partners, pointing to Seattle Partners’ request for $250 million in public bonding that it would repay. The comparison also addresses the financial components of the bid submitted by the Oak View Group, saying that it could create a burden over the long run. More from King 5:

The SODO group believes “the OVG proposal could entrail even larger public subsidies than the SP proposal,” and that Oak View’s request for parking revenues is just the start.

“In total we believe the present value of these subsidies is also in excess of $200 million and potentially even higher than those request by SP,” the SODO group’s analysis said.

Tim Leiweke of Oak View has said his group has financial backing from the Madison Square Garden Company and Goldman Sachs. Oak View’s plan involves digging 15 feet down to expand the existing footprint and gut the current interior. It’s a $564 million plan.

Wally Walker, who is part of the SODO team, told Sports Radio 950 KJR on Wednesday that his group was just trying to get the questions about both proposals out in the open.

“It looks like the city may be on the hook for those cost overruns,” Walker said about the bids and his group’s offer in SODO. “It’s not even close. It’s almost laughable, the difference, the tax money generated from the privately financed SODO arena would pay for all kind of good things for the city, for the state, and whatever they want to do with KeyArena.”

The Sodo arena plan would require a waiver of admissions taxes, and a similar request would be in order with both KeyArena bids. Furthermore, the city would have to approve the vacation of South Occidential Avenue for the Sodo arena’s construction. The street vacation proved to be a point of contention last year, when the Seattle City Council rejected an earlier version of the pitch.

No final decisions have been made about the bids, as city officials are still sorting through the proposals.

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