SEATTLE – A Seattle City Hall source confirmed a developer has recently approached the city about possible construction of a SODO arena, which could house an NBA and/or NHL franchise.
The source confirms the talks are ongoing, and stressed nothing is concrete.
It’s unclear if the developer is the same one who has kicked the tires on a Bellevue arena plan, which has had trouble coming together because of land issues.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told KING5 back in May that a group had surfaced which was interested in bringing an NHL franchise to the city, but a new arena was likely needed.
Chicago businessman Don Levin says he is interested in bringing a franchise to the city, but told KING5 in July that he was not building an arena. Multiple sources said recently that his interest in Seattle has not subsided.
Seattle’s flirtation with a new arena is complicated, as a new building could create competition for KeyArena, and would likely steal a majority of dates away from the Seattle Center facility. The SODO neighborhood has long been suggested as an arena location. The late former Sonics Owner Barry Ackerley even announced his plan to build a multipurpose, dual sport, arena, at the site of the current Safeco Field, before that deal fell apart in the 90’s and the city remodeled the Seattle Center Coliseum instead.
Seattle saw the NBA’s Supersonics move to Oklahoma City in 2008, after then Mayor Greg Nickels, and city leaders, settled a contentious Key Arena lease dispute. Owner Clay Bennett had demanded a new arena to stay competitive, and public tax money to fund a majority of it.
The Mayor's office issued a statement Saturday, saying "Our office has had many enthusiastic overtures concerning the return of an NBA franchise to Seattle. Some of these offers have been serious. Some have not been serious. And the current speculation is over one of these proposals. We are looking at this opportunity, examining its specifics and how it fits our city. At this point, we have not received a concrete offer.
When we do reach that point, the City Council will be our first step in moving forward and then there will be an open process to evaluate that offer before we move forward. We would welcome a serious commitment from the NBA to reestablish a franchise with responsible ownership, to our community."