Mayor Murray Announces Arena Advisory Panel

Today Mayor Ed Murray announced an Arena Advisory Panel who will provide counsel to the mayor and his team as they consider forthcoming proposals to redevelop KeyArena on the Seattle Center campus.

Panel members were chosen based on their various expertise, including music, sports, transportation, neighborhood interests, design and more.

“Seattle is in a unique position with multiple interested parties who want to invest in the kind of arena that could attract music, sports, and entertainment to our growing region,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We are paving the way for the Sonics to come home and to building a world-class entertainment venue in Seattle, and I look forward to working with this panel on the possibility of KeyArena being part of that path.”

“I am honored to have been asked by Mayor Ed Murray to serve as a community leader on his Arena Advisory Panel. I have, and always will be working to help our great city bring the NBA back to town. I am looking forward to reviewing the RFP proposals while offering advice to the Mayor,“ Coach Lenny Wilkens said.  “I have fond memories of playing and coaching basketball in this city, and I hope to see the NBA return sooner than later! While I support all options for bringing basketball back, I will be going into this process with my eyes wide open.”

Members of the advisory panel are:

  • Lenny Wilkens, Legendary Sonics Coach Three-Time Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee,
  • Jan Levy, Executive Director, Leadership Tomorrow; Chair, Seattle Center Advisory Committee
  • Deborah Frausto, Uptown Alliance
  • Nicole Grant, Executive Secretary, King-County Labor Council
  • Ethan Stowell, Ethan Stowell Restaurants
  • Ollie Garrett, President, Tabor 100
  • Megan Jasper, EVP, Subpop Records; Seattle Music Commission
  • Todd Humphrey, Co-Founder, and Chief Commercial Officer, League Inc.; former professional hockey player
  • Jill Nishi, Director, Office of the President and Chief of Staff, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Rico Quirindongo, Architect, DLR Group; One Center City Advisory Group

“Uptown is growing into an urban, walkable neighborhood,” Deborah Frausto of the Uptown Alliance said. “People who live here, love that they are within walking distance of so many arts and entertainment options that help define Seattle.  I will pay close attention to proposals that demonstrate they understand this vision of our neighborhood while addressing the transportation needs for those who want to enjoy events at KeyArena.”

“KeyArena has a long history hosting concerts. In fact, the first performance at the then Colosseum was the Beatles,” Megan Jasper, CEO of Sub Pop said. “I’m looking forward to reviewing proposals to ensure that both music fans and performers will see the Arena as a favorite place to attend concerts and to perform. From the sound quality to the load in and load out times, to accessibility for all, we have an opportunity to create something truly special in the heart of Seattle that can enhance our music and arts communities.”

For evaluating the upcoming RFP bid proposals, the City will create a 3-pronged approach, as follows:

  • Community Advisory Panel — A Community Advisory Panel comprised of 11 community leaders will review the proposals and the analysis provided by the City Staff Review Teams and offer their advice and observations to the Mayor and his Executive Review Team on strengths and areas of concern for the responses to the RFP.
  • City Staff Review Teams — The City Staff Review Teams will provide a detailed analysis of the proposals as they relate to the City’s objectives. Their analysis will be provided to both the Community Advisory Panel and the Executive Review Team with their respective reviews.
  • Executive Review Team — The Executive Review Team will evaluate the City Staff Review Team recommendations and consider the advice from the Community Advisory Panel before making their recommendation to the Mayor. The members of the Executive Review Team are, Brian Surratt, Director of the Office of Economic Development, Robert Nellams, Director of the Seattle Center, and Ben Noble, Director of the City of Seattle Budget Office.

In January, the City of Seattle, led by Seattle Office of Economic Development Director, Brian Surratt released an RFP to renovate or rebuild KeyArena. Proposers are required to submit at least one proposal that assumes KeyArena is a landmark because the building is eligible for the status. They also have the option to submit a second proposal that envisions construction of a new arena.

The City’s objectives for the redevelopment are below (collectively “Arena Objectives”):

  • Provide a world-class civic arena (the “Arena”) 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 (the “Project”) with minimal City financial participation.
  • 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.

KeyArena currently hosts more than 100 events each year. If NBA and NHL teams eventually use a proposed arena, it would add approximately 82 additional events at the site.

Proposers were asked to present transportation proposals to help mitigate these additional events. The City is also looking closely at several options.

Proposals are due on April 12. Final recommendations will be delivered to the Mayor in late June.

The complete RFP and supporting materials are available online at



Welcoming U.S. Metros Combined Are Third Largest Economy In the World

I was inspired by our community’s demonstration of solidarity with immigrants and refugees when we came together for the Shine a Light event. Seattle will continue to speak out for what we believe in, and we are proud to be a welcoming city.  

As threats to withhold funding from fellow welcoming cities are issued not only at the federal level, but at the state level too, I want to point out some important facts about what these cities contribute to our nation. 

Reuters identified the top 10 largest metropolitan areas at risk of losing federal funding over their commitments to welcome immigrants, regardless of their documentation: New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Detroit, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, Denver, and Washington D.C. 

The combined gross metropolitan product of those ten cities was more than $5.6 trillion in 2015, according to the U.S. Council of Mayors. That’s nearly one-third of the U.S. GDP. 

What’s more, these 10 cities together comprise the third largest economy in the world, after the United States and China. 

These powerful economies are of course driven by a mighty workforce. Seven of the 10 cities returned to their pre-recession employment peak before the U.S. as a whole did, and from 2009 to 2016 these cities created almost one-third of all new U.S. jobs. 

It’s not hard to understand that making threats to the cities that together comprise a massive proportion of our country’s economy is a bad move. Still, we will not be bullied into abandoning our core values – our welcoming city stands united in defense of the rights and dignity of all. 

Learn more: Fact Sheet: Economic Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion and Costs of Discrimination and Isolationism