Construction on a major remodel likely couldn’t begin until late spring of 2019 after NCAA men’s tournament regional games are played there. Two groups proposing to renovate the arena for NBA and NHL use have estimated it would take roughly two years to complete the project.
It looks increasingly like any plan to renovate KeyArena would not be completed until the start of the 2021-22 season for both the NHL and NBA.
That’s one year later than the previous forecast of the earliest possible timeline. The news came on the heels of the NCAA awarding part of its March 2019 men’s basketball tournament to the 55-year-old facility.
All indications are the city is standing by its guarantees that the venue would be available for hosting some of the tournament’s first- and second-round games, meaning construction on a major remodel likely couldn’t begin until late spring of 2019.
“It is too soon to determine if there would be a scheduling conflict with proposed KeyArena redevelopment,” Joe Mirabella, a spokesman for the city’s Request for Proposals (RFP) process to renovate the 55-year-old facility, said in a written statement. “City staff are currently reviewing the RFPs and proposed development timelines for each proposal to build a world class arena in Seattle.”
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The Oak View Group (OVG), a Los Angeles-based company headed by Tim Leiweke that has submitted a $564 million renovation proposal, has said the arena could be ready for NBA and NHL use by the start of both leagues’ seasons in October 2020. Leiweke has said it would take about two years to build the arena once all permissions are obtained.
Seattle Partners, a combination of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Hudson Pacific Properties, has stated it would take “24-to-26 months” to carry out its $520 million renovation plan once approved.
Steven Gottlieb, a Seattle-based spokesman for OVG, said Wednesday the company was not made aware of the NCAA tournament possibility before it submitted its proposal.
“OVG was not aware of the NCAA until we read about it (on Tuesday),’’ he said, adding that no conversations had taken place yet with the city about implications on construction timelines.
Aaron Pickus, a spokesman for AEG, said the Seattle Partners group had no comment for now. AEG manages marketing for KeyArena and likely would have been aware of any bid to host the NCAA tournament at that venue.
The NCAA application was a joint effort by the University of Washington and the Seattle Sports Commission in August — two months before Mayor Ed Murray announced that a the RFP process for a KeyArena renovation would occur this year. Ralph Morton, executive director of the sports commission, said Wednesday his group supports adding a world-class facility to Seattle, be it at KeyArena or a Sodo District site pitched by entrepreneur Chris Hansen.
Morton added that all business is proceeding as planned at KeyArena, and he’s excited about the NCAA returning its tournament here only four years after KeyArena hosted such games in March 2015.
The city owns KeyArena and would have had to sign off on any application that effectively guarantees use of its facilities for the dates in question. Mirabella and others did not comment further, though sources indicate those running the RFP process were not made aware beforehand by their city colleagues of the NCAA tournament possibility.
Adding to the confusion is the fact a proposed NBA/NHL remodel of KeyArena still must be approved. City officials will submit a recommendation on the two proposals to Murray by late June, and he’ll decide whether to forward either to city council for further review.
The council could then have to choose between going with a KeyArena remodel or Hansen’s proposal in Sodo. Considering that likely sequence of events, no one is certain when any KeyArena construction, if approved, would be green lit.