After nearly 20 years, and ten years after the SuperSonics left town for the prairieland of Oklahoma, Seattle has an official deal to build a new arena that will support both the NHL and the NBA.
On Monday afternoon, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved the proposed Seattle Center Arena project, developed by and to be fully privately financed by the Oak View Group. The final approval of the project and its transaction documents caps a process that began with an October 2016 announcement that the city of Seattle would release a request for proposals to renovate the erstwhile KeyArena in January 2017.
The 8-0 vote — the council meeting also featured not a single public comment against approval of the project — stands in stark contrast to the last vote the city council took on an arena project. A vote on a street vacation of Occidental Avenue S for an arena project proposed in the city’s SoDo district ended in a 5-4 defeat in May 2016.
The approval clears a big hurdle in the process to secure an NHL expansion team, which the ownership group headed by David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer filed for in February. In early March, the group garnered 33,000 deposits for season tickets in a single day.
Next on the agenda, the ownership group will make a presentation to the NHL’s executive committee next week. With the arena solution solved, the NHL is expected to approve Seattle as its 32nd market in the next few months.
OVG head Tim Leiweke spoke before the council vote on Monday to thank them for their partnership and to reiterate his group’s commitment to closing the NHL process and to pursuing an NBA team to rightfully return the Sonics to Seattle.
For the first time in many years, we can finally say that Seattle has taken care of its part of the equation.