The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a new lease deal for the Seattle Storm, which would keep the franchise playing in Seattle until 2028.
KING 5 first reported the potential deal earlier this month, which contains an annual public subsidy and language that would force the city to pay the Storm millions of dollars in the event it temporarily relocates during a KeyArena renovation. However, it is likely the city will ask any potential developer to absorb that cost.
"They really are the basketball team in our city," Councilmember Sally Bagshaw said during brief remarks before the vote.
The deal, which is between Force 10 Hoops, which owns the Storm, and the city, also includes language that reads in a five-page fiscal summary:
F10H in recognition that the:
"Storm’s presence in KeyArena enhances certain City revenues, such as sponsorship, suite sales, and advertising. In return, F10H shares financial responsibility for maintenance of portions of the facility and for certain day of game Seattle Center event staff. As part of the revenue sharing arrangement, beginning in 2017, F10H will receive an annual payment of $340,198, indexed for inflation, for the building naming rights, premium seating and suite sales, and advertising. The City retains the right to these revenue sources. F10H will pay a per-game License Fee of $5,715 for the lower bowl configuration, plus additional charges for use of upper bowl sections, up to a maximum of $8,115 for use of the lower and upper bowls, indexed to the annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)"
The deal also says: "While redevelopment of KeyArena is expected to be beneficial for the Storm, reservation of redevelopment rights and F10H’s loss of ability to enter long-term revenue generating agreements, like advertising and sponsorship agreements, may have negative financial impacts on the Storm. As consideration for these impacts, the City will pay F10H $100,000 per year, beginning in 2018. Appropriation for the payment will be requested in the 2018 budget."
Two weeks ago, Storm President Alisha Valavanis issued a statement about the negotiations and securing the franchise's future in Seattle.
“The Seattle Storm looks forward to a future when we can share our community’s mantle of professional basketball with an NBA franchise, whether it’s at a renovated KeyArena or a new SODO arena. In the meantime, the Seattle Storm has the 2019 season to think about as our current KeyArena lease expires at the end of our 2018 season. Recognizing our franchise, 18 years in, owned for the past ten by a trio of local, community-minded women, needs a home, we began negotiating early in 2016 to extend our current KeyArena lease. This timeline preceded the start of dialogue around renovating KeyArena. We deeply value our current partnership with the City and KeyArena. This partnership illustrates Seattle’s commitment to community, diversity, equality, and inclusion. We are proud to play here and represent the Emerald City. In the event the City decides to pursue the development of a SODO arena, based on our past experience working with the City of Seattle and Chris Hansen to complete the current MOU, we are confident that all three parties can come together again.”
The Storm have won the WNBA title twice, and are scheduled to host the WNBA All Star Game this year at KeyArena. They started the 2017 WNBA season at 4-1.