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Seattle Partners Withdraws KeyArena Renovation Bid

Seattle Coliseum rendering KeyArena

Seattle Partners has withdrawn its bid to renovate KeyArena, a decision that comes months after the group submitted its high-profile plan. 

A group that includes AEG and Hudson Pacific Properties, Seattle Partners unveiled a plan in April that called for a $521 million renovation to KeyArena. That was in reponse to a request for proposal (RFP) that had been issued by the City of Seattle, and it made Seattle Partners one of two firms–along with the Oak View Group–to submit a detailed plan.

In its proposal, Seattle Partners outlined a project that would bring KeyArena to modern NBA and NHL standards while allowing it to host concerts and other major performances. To create more room within the venue, the group proposed extending its roofline. The financing package also included a request for $250 million in public bonding from the city, with Seattle Partners guaranteeing full repayment of the bonds.

That proposal is no longer in the mix. On Sunday, the group revealed in a letter to Seattle mayor Ed Murray that it was pulling its plan off the table, and expressed concern about the process. More from the AP:

“We fear the City is driving toward an unrealistic financing structure, and we believe the City has failed to conduct a sufficiently thorough, objective and transparent process to properly evaluate the respective strengths and weaknesses of the two proposals and, most significantly, to identify the proposal best positioned to deliver a project consistent with the community’s interests,” the letter read.

They were strong comments about the city’s handling of the process, considering AEG has been in charge of operations at the city-owned facility for more than a decade.

Despite not being considered the favorite, it was a surprising decision by Seattle Partners to withdraw, with the city likely to announce its choice in moving forward on KeyArena within the next week. The city had originally said it would choose a proposal by June 30 on which group to enter into negotiations with on the KeyArena remodel, but that date has been pushed up.

Murray issued a statement on Seattle Partners’ decision:

“We appreciate Seattle Partners’ interest in investing in KeyArena and our ongoing partnership with AEG on major events, such as Bumbershoot. Over the last few months, the City and the Community Advisory Panel have undertaken a careful review of the two proposals to redevelop KeyArena into a world class entertainment facility that will bring the NHL to Seattle and the Sonics back home.

“There are strengths and weaknesses in each proposal and the City fully expects a robust negotiation upon choosing a preferred alternative, to ensure the final plan meets the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods, the city, Seattle Center and those who will use the building for years to come.

“It is unfortunate Seattle Partners chose to pull their proposal. As recently as May 19th, Seattle Partners stated in a mass email: ‘We applaud the City for executing a thoughtful public process. Engaging with teams from the City and the public has strengthened our proposal and crystallized our approach.’ We hope to continue our current relationship with AEG and look forward to addressing our path forward on KeyArena, as well as our commitment to engage the community, in the coming days.”

The bids from Seattle Partners and Oak View Group are not the only proposals that have been floated to address Seattle’s arena situation, as developer Chris Hansen has pitched the construction of a brand new venue in the city’s Sodo neighborhood. KeyArena originally opened its doors as the Washington State Pavilion in 1962, and would later serve as the home of the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics throughout much of the team’s history.

Rendering courtesy Seattle Partners.

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