A memo to city-council members says a review of an all-private arena proposal from entrepreneur Chris Hansen will take “five to six months” to complete. No council vote can be scheduled until after that, which extends beyond the city’s timeline for making a KeyArena decision.
There will be no new vote taken on a proposed Sodo District arena until after the City of Seattle has decided whether KeyArena can be renovated for NBA and NHL use.
A memo sent Thursday by legislative analyst Lish Whitson to council members says a city review of an all-private arena proposal from entrepreneur Chris Hansen will take “five to six months” to complete. No council vote can be scheduled until after that point, which extends beyond the city’s late-June timeline for making a KeyArena decision.
“The City will be considering this petition as a new petition and it will go through the normal City process,’’ Whitson wrote of Hansen’s request, submitted by his arena group Wednesday.
That process includes a review by the city’s transportation department and design commission. After that, scheduling a council vote before next fall seems highly unlikely given the onset of the summer break period. Whitson added: “Other than introducing a Clerk File containing the petition and referring it to the appropriate committee, there is no action the council will need to take at this time.’’
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Mayor Ed Murray has said he expects a decision on KeyArena renovation proposals by late June, which could render any future Sodo vote moot. Murray has said the city will have only one major arena — at KeyArena or in Sodo. KeyArena renovation proposals must be submitted by April 12 and contain solutions for transportation and parking problems in the Lower Queen Anne and Mercer Corridor areas near the venue.
A statement by Murray on Wednesday night said he was moving ahead with the KeyArena process regardless of the new Sodo proposal.
“Over the last four years, the SoDo arena group and the City have worked to determine whether SoDo would be the best place to build a new NBA and NHL arena,” Murray said. “Given the continued uncertainty of when the SoDo group can secure a team and with multiple partners with strong ties to the NBA and NHL interested in the renovation of KeyArena without requiring a team, the City will continue the RFP process to evaluate KeyArena as an option to bring the Sonics back to Seattle. City Council will determine the path forward on the proposed street vacation in SoDo, while we continue to look at all the options, including the SoDo arena, and consider what is best for the public and what will bring the NBA and NHL to Seattle.”
The city council would have to sign off on any potential deal with KeyArena developers, meaning it could have to pick between the two projects late this year. But if the council was generally in favor of a KeyArena proposal formalized this summer, it could render moot any new vote on the Sodo project.
Two California-based companies — Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Oak View Group (OVG) — confirmed Wednesday they are planning to submit proposals by the deadline. There had been rumors of a third company submitting a proposal, but AEG and OVG were the only ones with representatives attending a city-sponsored KeyArena tour two weeks ago.
An official attendees list provided by the city also showed no members of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes participated in that tour. A story in the Glendale Star in Arizona on Wednesday quoted an unnamed KeyArena spokesperson saying the Coyotes recently sent reps on an arena tour with other prospective developers and owners.
The same story said those team reps also toured the Moda Center in Portland.
Joe Mirabella, a spokesman for the city’s economic development department — which is handling the KeyArena proposal process — said a shorter, private tour was given to some OVG representatives this past Tuesday. But Mirabella also said he’d been told no Coyotes representatives were on that tour either.
The Coyotes have strongly denied the story, which quickly gained national attention since it comes soon after the team’s deal for new arena deal in Tempe, Ariz., fell apart late last week.
Coyotes owner Anthony LeBlanc told The Seattle Times on Thursday he’d sent no team representatives on either a KeyArena tour or any other arena-investigation visit here.
LeBlanc did say his team does retain an outside consultant currently doing work with Hansen’s group on the Sodo project. He said he checked with Hansen to see whether he’d sent that person on the tour.
“He told me he hadn’t sent anybody,’’ LeBlanc said.
The only Hansen group attendee at the KeyArena tour was his lobbyist and spokesman, Rollin Fatland, whose name appeared on the city’s list.