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Seattle arena: Trouble in Tukwila? Key Arena called out?

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Ray Bartoszek is behind on a payment for an ongoing environmental review for his proposed arena in Tukwila. Also, the NHL and a former Seattle Center executive cast doubt on the viability of a proposed Key Arena renovation.

Proposed arena in Tukwila.
Proposed arena in Tukwila.

KING5 newsman Chris Daniels reports that Ray Bartoszek's investment group has missed a payment to the City of Tukwila for an environmental review that is under way for his proposed NHL/NBA arena in that town.

Rachel Bianchi, spokesperson for Tukwila, acknowledges that the group led by Connecticut investment banker Ray Bartoszek signed a deal to reimburse the city for "peer review around the environmental analysis" and fees associated with project management. The contract calls for up Bartoszek's company, RLB Holdings, to repay the city up to $300,000 for the services rendered, and that Tukwila bills RLB in increments of $50,000.

However, Bianchi says, after the City received an initial payment of $20,000, the current invoice of $50,000 has yet to be paid. In total, says Bianchi, the City has spent $83,369.52 on the review of the arena proposal, south of I-405. She says that means Bartoszek's group still owes Tukwila $63,359.52.

Bartoszek attributes the shortfall to a clerical error that will be corrected. He also reiterates that he has extended the ownership options on the land involved in the proposal. Bianchi expressed confidence that the project will proceed to the next phase of the review.

Daniels also reports some information that casts doubt on the viability of a proposed $285 million NBA/NHL remodel of Key Arena. The most important piece of data comes from the NHL.

The NHL, despite the lack of bids on expansion, remains interested in the market. However, the NHL's Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly reiterated last week in an email to KING 5, that the league is not interested in a refurbished KeyArena as a long term solution.

If that doesn't kill the Key Arena narrative from SoDo opponents, it's difficult to imagine what will. Former Seattle Center and Seattle Supersonics executive Terry McLaughlin casts even more doubt on the Seattle relic.

"You'd have to tear out the bowl," said McLaughlin. "The geometry of the building also makes it rough. You can't go much deeper than what's there, and that makes the NHL idea tough."

He says, in theory, a developer could tear out the Northwest Rooms and skate par, to add to the footprint, but that would be a massive remodel costing close to the price of a brand new arena, on par with current similar venues. A city budget analyst, in August, put a pricetag on the potential loss of revenue for the city during a Key renovation at anywhere between $5.8 million and $21 million over a three-year period.

Meanwhile, Chris Hansen's arena project faces a likely January vote for the vacation of Occidental Avenue.