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Examining the design process of KeyArena’s MOU

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OVG KeyArena renovations

So yesterday got kind of weird.

Just mere moments before a scheduled press conference, wherein he was set to announce that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Seattle and the Oak View Group has been passed to City Council, Mayor Ed Murray was faced with new allegations of sexual assault and the press conference was thus cancelled. Hours later, Murray would tender his resignation, to become effective this afternoon.

The press conference was purely ceremonial, as the MOU was still passed to Council, who is expected to vote on it before the end of the year. The document is 97 pages long and contains tons of “whereas” and clauses and phrases and other such legalese. The one section I want to discuss is the design element.

We’ve all seen the arena renderings that accompanied OVG’s proposal. However, it’s important to remember that it was purely a proposal and that those renderings are not a final draft. The MOU states that “the preliminary design documents are subject to further revision and approvals.”

Over the past few years, we’ve all become more familiar with the Seattle design process than I think we ever expected to be, so we have some idea of what comes next. The arena will have to be approved by the Design Commission and will have to meet several criteria, most of which are outlined in the MOU.

The arena will obviously need to comply with all state and national laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It will also have to comply with Seattle’s Century 21 Master Plan as well as the Landmarks Preservation Board’s controls and incentives agreement. The one design standard that should be most prevalent in the minds of sports fans, however, is section (iii), which states that the arena shall;

comply with current and currently-anticipated NHL and NBA specifications, standards and requirements for new arenas. OVG will obtain advance acknowledgements from both the NBA and the NHL indicating that the Final Design of the Arena has been completed in a manner sufficient to permit an NBA and NHL team to play home games at the Arena.

Not only does the arena have to meet league standards, it must actually be signed off on by both leagues before starting construction.

Much was made of the fact that the Bressi Garage, housing Pottery Northwest, was named as a landmark. OVG’s original plan called for the building to be torn down and for an underground access tunnel to be constructed. The MOU, while not going into much detail as far as the Final Design, does feature this graphic which shows that tunnel still being part of the arena project.

The Design stage of development is scheduled to begin in November and be finished by April of 2018.

Also, while not design related, this section seemed relevant to our shared interests:

Subject to NBA approval and applicable rules, regulations, requirements, and agreements of the NBA, OVG or an affiliate of OVG shall use commercially reasonable efforts to acquire from the current owner thereof the “Seattle Sonics / Supersonics” name.

We are continuing to dig through the MOU and will have more info in the coming days and weeks.