Seattle’s mayor and Seattle School District Superintendent have signed a letter outlining a potential renovation of Memorial Stadium and construction of a new high school.
The six-page letter, officially signed last month, lays out the framework for an agreement to collaborate on a design of a new Memorial Stadium and high school “that meets the stated needs of SPS and of the adjacent Seattle Center property,” noting that the design should be “spectacular."
The Seattle School District owns two parcels of property at Seattle Center and has long maintained that the stadium is important for district sports activities. However, it has, in recent years floated the importance of a new high school at the spot in anticipation of an influx of students in ever-growing Seattle. The stadium, built in 1947, has been used by the district, Seattle Reign FC, and the Sounders USL club. It has also hosted multiple concerts and played a key role in the 1962 Worlds Fair.
The letter states that “the City is willing to consider a financial partnership with SPS on this project," however noting that both sides are willing to explore other options for facilities on nearby alternative properties.
The city and district have been part of ongoing discussions about what to do with the northeast quadrant of Seattle Center, which includes Memorial Stadium, the KCTS Building, and Mercer Garage. The Seattle Opera and Space Needle are in various stages of renovation, and the city is currently negotiating with the Oak View Group on a redevelopment of the KeyArena site.
In a statement, Seattle Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland said "“A new stadium and a new high school are both critical needs for Seattle Public Schools. We welcome this opportunity to partner with the city on how we can best meet our individual and collective needs.” Murray added, "This agreement shows how SPS and the City can work together to address challenges and build a better Seattle."
The letter outlines the negotiation team, which includes Stephen Neilsen, the deputy superintendent, and Brian Surratt, Seattle’s economic development director. The letter states that they will meet no less than monthly until June of 2018, before developing next steps.
There is no price tag or funding suggestion attached to the letter.
The Downtown Seattle Association applauded the idea of a new school and stadium at Seattle Center. James Sido, a spokesperson for the DSA, called a new school "one of our top priorities."
He says their data shows downtown students enrolled in SPS has increased by 73% between 2007 and 2016 and that the four neighborhoods north of downtown (Denny Triangle, South Lake Union, Belltown, and Uptown) saw the number of kids double from 2010-2020.