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OVG Director of Operations Steve Mattson talks to Bill Wixey

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OVG Director of Operations Steve Mattson (left) speaks to Q13’s Bill Wixey
Bill Wixey

Q13’s Bill Wixey sat down with the man who will be overseeing construction of the $600 million Seattle Center Arena renovation, Oak View Group Director of Operations Steve Mattson.

Wixey brought up the trepidation many fans feel towards the KeyArena location and it’s ability to bring back the Seattle SuperSonics. Mattson feels that having an arena is certainly better than not, and that having one winter sports team can lead the way to a second.

“However the team left, I think to get NBA or NHL back, it was going to require a new building and I think that’s what’s going on now. I think you’ve got a case of where the building will be ready for both NHL and NBA, and I think it’s a clean slate. The number twelve market in the country should not be without a winter sport. If it’s NHL that paves the way to get NBA back, I don’t think that’s a bad scenario. Right now I think we’re focused on first the NHL, but creating a building that is fully capable for not just an NHL but an NBA team, from the back of house to the front of house.”

OVG on bringing the Sonics back to Seattle

An NHL expansion team is on track to begin play in the new building in 2020. Steve Mattson, the man overseeing construction of a new $560 million arena at Seattle Center, says that the NHL will "blow people away". A lot of Seattle fans are encouraged about the NHL's arrival, but what about the NBA? Mattson says the new arena, along with the enthusiastic local response to the NHL, will send a strong message to the NBA about the strength of the Seattle sports market and pave the way to bring the Sonics back.

Posted by Bill Wixey on Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mattson also addressed the traffic issues associated with Seattle Center.

“It’s too early because I think there’s too many moving pieces on the design. I’ll give you one example of how, as you maybe seen in the design, we’re adding underground parking both for trucks to pull in for shows, for players to be for parking, and some other parking and underground ramp.”

“I think you’ve gotta envision down the road when the light rail comes into the area. You have to now factor in so many more things like Uber and Lyft and biking. I think those are all lots of things in play. To say it’s solved right now would be premature.”

Seattle Arena-Traffic

There's excitement-- and some controversy-- surrounding a new $560 million arena at Seattle Center. A lot of people are concerned about traffic and parking, and the concerns are valid. Oak View Group is committing $40 million to address traffic issues around the arena. They are also building an 850-stall garage on site, working with the city on additional traffic cops, and timed streetlights to flush traffic out after events. They are creating apps for reserved parking in the area, and plan to bundle tickets with parking and ride share service. OVG's newly-named Director of Operations Stave Mattson says they don't have it all figured out yet, but they--and the city--are taking the issue very seriously.

Posted by Bill Wixey on Thursday, January 25, 2018

As far as NHL expansion in 2020, here’s what Mattson had to say:

“In a perfect world, you not only hit that opening of the season but you’ve got some time for some soft other events so that your opening of the doors on that home opener with an event or two of having tested the place.”

As far as potential delays, Mattson said said this:

“I think that’s where the partnership with the city is so critical, because as we’re into what is long form documents now and working on the inevitable total relationship with the city, it is all charging towards that deadline and trying to take care of as many surprises in advance so that when you break ground this fall you turn it over to the experts.”

Seattle Arena-What if the Arena isn't finished in time?

A Seattle ownership group has filed paperwork for an NHL expansion team that could begin play in a new arena at Seattle Center in the Fall of 2020. A season ticket drive will be launched soon. Oak View Group says that everything is "proceeding exactly as planned". It's a tight, two-year construction window. I asked the newly-named Director of Operations for the arena project what happens if there are construction delays, and the arena is not completed in time for the start of the 2020 NHL season.

Posted by Bill Wixey on Thursday, January 25, 2018

On a related note, OVG CEO Tim Leiweke was named the fifth most powerful NHL power broker by SportsNet’s John Shannon. Shannon brings up Seattle as well as the new New York Islanders arena being planned in Long Island, not to mention Leiweke’s stories history with the league.

Already well-known to Canadian sports fans, Leiweke is now the CEO of Oak View Group, an all-encompassing arena sports and entertainment company. He and his partners have fostered a renovated arena in Seattle and been identified as the preferred partner on the new Long Island arena. Leiweke’s ingenuity, aggressive public relations style and pure sports business knowledge have put him in a position to create new opportunities, like the one in Seattle, and help existing venues grow and prosper all over North America. His work with the L.A. Kings helped put two Stanley Cup banners in Staples Center, and his aggressive style in Toronto put the Maple Leafs back among playoff-bound teams.