ArenaCo. arrangement ‘unprecedented’, uses no public funding
The Seattle City Council approved final transactions documents by a vote of 8-0 to fully renovate the Arena at Seattle Center and formally approve Oak View Group’s (OVG) plan to privately finance.
Taken together, the two ordinances – CB 119344 which revises use of the admissions tax; and CB 119345 which constitutes the development, lease and integration agreements that were recently transmitted – represent the arrangement between the City of Seattle and ArenaCo to redevelop KeyArena into a first-class sports and entertainment facility. The 56-year-old, publicly-owned arena will be renovated in its entirety using only private funds.
“In many ways, today’s Full Council vote is the closing chapter of a story fourteen years in the making,” said Councilmember Debora Juarez, (North Seattle, District 5) and co-chair of the Select Committee on Civic Arenas. “I am so proud of this moment and what it represents, including our history with both the Sonics and our future with the World Champion Seattle Storm, a proposal which could ultimately lead to over a billion dollars in private investment in Seattle Center. We have achieved a feat rarely seen in the construction of sports stadiums – a public-private partnership where the taxpaying public doesn’t pay for arena construction. I am proud to have played my part in the creation of a world-class asset for our city.”
“While the City has gone through many twists and turns to get to this moment, our patience and determination has led us to a project that is best for the City,” said Council President Bruce Harrell (South Seattle, District 2) and co-chair of the Select Committee. “We have one of the strongest arena agreements you will find in the country—protecting our taxpayers and the City. The community benefits and private investments are unprecedented. At the end of the day, this project moves the Seattle Center Campus into the 21st century and sets out a future for a premier urban gathering place for our city. At the heart will be a top five music/sports venue in the world, but I also see incredible opportunities in the future to unify open spaces and further develop a dynamic campus.”
OVG will commit to the Seattle Center site for 39 years and spend $40M on transportation mitigation. It has also committed $10M to YouthCare, in addition to paying for the relocation of the businesses affected by the construction.
Earlier this year, OVG, led by Tim Leiweke, announced it had an NHL investment group (“Seattle Hockey Partners”), led by David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer, signaled a $650M bid for an expansion franchise to begin in 2020. Seattle Hockey Partners is slated to give a presentation to the NHL’s executive committee eight days after the final council vote. The city has included a clause not to allow demolition of the existing KeyArena until an NHL franchise is awarded.
Following the Full Council vote, Juarez recognized the work of her co-chair Council President Bruce Harrell, Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams, NHL Seattle’s CEO Tod Leiweke and Dave Tippett, OVG’s Francesca Bodie and Lance Lopes.
“This vote is the culmination nearly two years of work and speaks to the confidence the community has in the process and our leadership. This vote is also a prime example of how to do things right. We worked with the executive branch and the legislative branch. We engaged the taxpayers and the private investors. When there is this much money on the line, this many procedural hurdles, this many outside forces, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” continued Juarez. “OVG’s outreach efforts have been outstanding and they’ve already hit aggressive timelines to get to this point. In the classic spirit of a sports fan, I’m a believer in OVG’s ability to achieve their goal of an October 2020 season opening date. Let’s get it done.”