Seattle officials have approved a major renovation of KeyArena. The Seattle City Council voted 7-1 today in favor of a Memorandum of Understanding with Oak View Group, allowing the company to renovate the historic landmark.
It's been 24 years since KeyArena had a significant facelift. The investment group plans to increase the arena's capacity and develop it into a more state-of-the-art concert and sports venue.
The redevelopment will nearly double the square footage of the current 368,000 square foot KeyArena.
Many people are hoping a redesign will attract new professional sports to Seattle, like hockey and men's basketball.
Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke said his group will do everything it can to recruit an NHL team and/or NBA team. Leiweke said they have contacted the NHL about possibly bringing a new team to Seattle.
Leiweke said the project is expected to total $600 million and will be privately financed. The lease agreement between the group and the city would be for 39 years, with two eight-year rollover extensions possible.
Under the MOU, Oak View Group will also have naming rights over the city-owned arena.
As part of the deal, Oak View Group will invest $40 million in transportation, including mobility improvements in the lower Queen Anne and downtown neighborhoods.
The company must also pay for the skate park at Seattle Center to be relocated, a temporary relocation for Pottery Northwest, and an unspecified amount to support affordable housing projects in the city.
The city of Seattle will collect rent and other payments from Oak View Group.
The investment group has proposed an ambitious timeline that could have the building ready by October 2020. As part of construction, the historic roofline will remain intact, and OVG said it will meet a LEED gold rating.
The MOU represents the beginning of a formal agreement between the city and Oak View Group, but is not the final step. Seattle officials will need to approve a new lease, a mobility plan, and multiple other documents before the arena is renovated.
Council member Mike O'Brien voted no on the MOU. He's concerned about a clause that bars the city from funding future large or mid-size arenas, among other things.