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Seattle musicians support SoDo arena, KeyArena split in letter to city

Macklemore, Duff McKagan, Sir Mix-a-lot among prominent signatures on the letter

Sonics Arena (HOK)

The City of Seattle received a letter Tuesday in support of the SoDo Arena proposal signed by prominent musicians Macklemore, Duff McKagan, Sir Mix-a-lot, Dave Dederer and Jason Finn of the Presidents of the United States of America, Dave Hernandez of the Shins, and others in the local music scene.

In particular, they offered support for the KeyArena redevelopment proposal offered by the private investment group to split the facility into three venues.

A standout name among the 33 signers, musician Ben London, has quickly become a big — and vocal — champion for the SoDo Arena effort.

After meeting with investor Chris Hansen during the week he was in town to testify to city council on the arena situation, the former chair of the Seattle Music Commission has testified to the city on behalf of the SoDo project. He’s also written a guest editorial in The Stranger encouraging backing of SoDo while calling into question how supportive an Oak View Group-owned arena at Seattle Center will be for local musicians with their exclusive relationship with live entertainment promoter Live Nation.

Today’s letter would appear to be the latest in his efforts to galvanize the Seattle music scene behind the SoDo arena and the potential two- (four?) venue option.

While Live Nation and other local music promoters and venue schedulers have spoken out against the three-venue option, saying it would cannibalize existing venues in the city, the letter paints a different picture. The artists say a lack of similar sized venues offers a great opportunity. They also feel it would better fit into the arts and culture efforts of the surrounding Seattle Center campus than would a large-capacity arena.

Interestingly, executives with AEG Live also signed the letter. Live is the subsidiary of the Anschutz Entertainment Group that manages venues for sports, concerts, festivals, events, trade shows, and the like. AEG Live Pacific Northwest currently manages KeyArena for the city.

AEG was one of the prominent investors behind the Seattle Partners, the group competing with OVG during the Request for Proposal process for KeyArena redevelopment earlier in the year. SP abandoned their proposal before a decision on the RFP winner had been made, stating that they felt they weren’t being given a fair shake in the process by the city. SP’s proposal included a request for $250 million in bond-backed financing on the city’s part, an ask that many felt left the proposal dead on arrival.

On Tuesday, Mayor Tim Burgess told Chris Daniels of KING5-TV that he wasn’t aware of any major problems or concerns with the Seattle Center Arena MOU that would keep the city council from voting on the document in December.

Hansen and the SoDo group have been trying to get the city council to consider their latest request for the Occidental Avenue street vacation before the city votes on the MOU. Recently, the city said it was waiting on the SoDo group to submit information to the Seattle Department of Transportation to help complete their review and recommendation on the vacation request to forward it to the council.

Aaron Levine of Q13 FOX shared that the Hansen group has responded to the city’s requests and will submit the necessary information within the next week.

Whether or not it will be effective in the end, the SoDo group is showing signs of life and some fight.

You can read the musicians’ letter to the city below (from KING5-TV):