Mayor Ed Murray announces Oak View Group as preferred partner for redevelopment of KeyArena

Mayor Ed Murray announced Oak View Group (OVG) as the preferred partner for the redevelopment of KeyArena today, beginning the process of negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will meet the needs of the surrounding community, the City, Seattle Center and the people who will enjoy the building for years to come. Today’s announcement comes at the culmination of a process that began last fall, with two organizations offering more than $1 billion to rebuild KeyArena into a world-class sports and entertainment facility. KeyArena is the centerpiece of the broader vision of a Seattle Center that is a central destination for Seattleites and people who visit our city each year.

“Today is an exciting day for the City, Sonics fans and everyone who looks forward to visiting KeyArena for hundreds of events each year,” said Mayor Murray. “KeyArena is one of our city’s great landmarks, and we will now work with OVG to get the best deal for Seattle – one that embraces the surrounding community, helps lay the foundation for the future of Seattle, and brings the Sonics home and the NHL to Seattle. I want to thank Oak View Group and Seattle Partners for working with the City of Seattle on the future of KeyArena and their interest in investing in the city.”

In February of 2017, the City of Seattle released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to redevelop KeyArena into a world-class sports and entertainment facility. Two serious bidders, Oak View Group and Seattle Partners, presented more than $1 billion in combined investments to reimagine the arena at the heart of Seattle Center. Oak View Group’s proposal emerged as the preferred option from the internal and external review processes. The Mayor’s Executive Review Team, led by Brian Surratt, unanimously selected Oak View Group as the preferred partner on Friday, June 2, 2017.

“On behalf of OVG, we want to congratulate the City of Seattle for its vision in revitalizing the arena at Seattle Center,” said Tim Leiweke, Co-founder and CEO of Oak View Group. “We are honored to partner with the Seattle Center, Uptown and Queen Anne neighborhoods, and the City, to preserve this historic building while transforming it into a world-class sports and live entertainment venue. We are committed to being a good neighbor, building on time and on budget with no risk to the taxpayers and City. Lastly, we will be a partner in the City’s path to bringing the NHL to Seattle and the return of the NBA. There is much work ahead and we have a great team and partner in the City of Seattle.”

While leaving the iconic roofline intact, OVG plans to redevelop the entire interior of the building, digging fifteen feet lower than the existing floor to add more square footage, bringing the arena size up to 660,000 square feet. Since KeyArena is eligible for historic landmark status, maintaining the existing roofline was identified as an important criterion. And OVG’s design meets at least the requirements of both the NBA and NHL.

OVG’s plan does not rely on the City’s bonding capacity, and they have partnered with Live Nation and Madison Square Garden Group, two well-established companies with the financial resources to build and operate an Arena of this size and scope. Additionally, OVG has strong relationships with both the NBA and NHL, which will be necessary to court teams in the future.

“I have been involved in basketball all my life, and I believe that Oak View Group’s vision provides the best way to bring the Sonics back to Seattle,” said Lenny Wilkens, former head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics and a member of the Arena Community Advisory Panel.

“Seattle’s labor community is excited about the opportunity to redevelop KeyArena,” said Nicole Grant, Executive Secretary of the M.L. King-County Labor Council and a member of the Arena Community Advisory Panel. “This project, during and after construction, will be a major employer, and OVG has indicated a strong commitment to equity and to workers as we move forward.”

Over several months, a Community Advisory Panel, external consultants who are experts in arenas, and internal City staff evaluated the proposals based on the following criteria:

  • Provide a world-class civic venue to attract and present music, entertainment, and sports events, potentially including NBA and NHL events, to Seattle and the region.
  • Provide for project design and arena operations in a manner that integrates with and enhances connections to Uptown and adjoining neighborhoods and aligns with the urban design
  • Provide for design, permitting, development, demolition (if applicable), and construction of the arena with minimal City financial participation.
  • Mayor Ed Murray announces Oak View Group as preferred partner for redevelopment of KeyArena.
  • Provide for the continuous, successful, sustainable operation of the arena as a world-class civic venue with minimal City financial participation.
  • Provide for mitigation of transportation impacts due to project construction and arena operations.
  • Provide project construction and arena operations in a manner that is equitable for workers and consistent with the City’s Race and Social Justice Initiative.
  • Provide for project design and arena operational integration with Seattle Center, contributing positively to the vibrancy of Seattle Center.

Also, the City collected comments from residents at an open house and online. While this process focused on the possible redevelopment of KeyArena, the City continues to honor its MOU with the group led by Chris Hansen, which continues into December of this year. Today’s announcement underscores the interest in building a world-class arena in Seattle, offering the City an option should the Hansen group fail to secure an NBA team, and helps address the future of the City-owned KeyArena.

In addition to their expertise with the arena, OVG demonstrated a commitment to the Seattle community. They established a $20 million community investment fund, $10 million of which will be dedicated to fighting youth homelessness through YouthCare.

“It is beyond our most vivid daydreams to think about all that will unfold through our partnership with Oak View Group,” said Melinda Giovengo, CEO of YouthCare, an organization that has provided support to homeless youth in the Seattle community for more than 40 years and to which Oak View Group has pledged $10 million over the next 20 years. “YouthCare is incredibly honored to be part of this transformative and historic project. So often homeless youth are invisible or left behind. But today? They are right alongside the City as it prepares to take a powerful and innovative step into its future. We thank Oak View Group for their commitment to Seattle’s shared values, and to helping homeless youth in our community find safety and prepare to take powerful steps into their own futures.”

On Wednesday, Mayor Ed Murray signed a letter agreeing to negotiate with Oak View Group to determine the final terms in a MOU. Once the terms are agreed upon, City Council will vote on the MOU by the end of 2017

The City of Seattle invites the community to continue to share their thoughts about Oak View Group’s design to help inform our negotiations moving forward. Visit to share your thoughts and to review materials.

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