AEG president talks KeyArena renovation, casts doubt on competing bid

KING

"We feel we're in a position to deliver it," said AEG President and CEO Dan Beckerman.

Beckerman spoke for the first time on the record in Seattle Thursday about his company's plan for KeyArena. It came as his company released a side-by-side comparison of his bid and the one by the Oak View Group.

At a downtown spot, he talked about AEG's vision for KeyArena and why it feels it's in the best position to carry about a massive renovation of the venerable arena at Seattle Center. He also answered questions about transportation and the company's request for $250 million in public financing.

AEG, which has helped operate KeyArena for years, has teamed up with Hudson Pacific Properties to form Seattle Partners in their bid for the arena deal.

Beckerman said he knows the bond ask is different than the city's request for a fully privately financed plan, but "the structure we've proposed is a little bit different," said Beckerman, "but if you look at it, and peel it back, this is a proposal that has no risk to the city." 

He said it's the only way for the company to help facilitate NHL and NBA teams come back to Seattle.

As far as transportation? AEG has offered to spend $5 million on mitigation, but Beckerman acknowledged it's not to help automobiles make their way to Seattle Center.

"The key is to get cars off the site and to have a multi modal transportation plan that involves rail, bike, and ride sharing, and Lyft and getting cars out of the center gravity there," said the AEG CEO.

Beckerman did touch on security in the wake of the bombing at the Manchester Arena and said it is an issue always front of mind.

"We have over 100 venues all over the world," he said. "As things evolve around the world you have to adapt and do things to escalate what we do from a staffing perspective."

The AEG leader did take issue with an analysis conducted by the SODO arena group, which suggested that the company, along with Hudson Pacific, is looking for more than $200 million in public subsidies. 

"No, I definitely don't agree with the math," he said. "I don't know how they calculated that."

His group's analysis of their bid and the Oak View's seems to throw shade at Tim Leiweke, who is leading the Oak View effort.

The nine-page report includes a side by side comparison. For instance it references AEG "has over two decades' experience owning, operating and developing arenas and live entertainment venues" and OVG is a "two-year-old advisory/consulting firm with no experience owning or operating live entertainment or sports venues." The report also said AEG "owns, operates and books over 120 venues across five continents," and "OVG owns no venues, OVG operates no venues, OVG books no venues".

The comparison also highlights AEG's history in Seattle, and that OVG has "no local presence in Seattle or track record of partnerships in this market."

The analysis also says that Seattle Partners is committing over $270 million in equity directly from AEG and Hudson Pacific, while OVG's "composition of ownership group and sources of funding (is) unclear."

It also claims OVG is "seeking numerous tax credits that go directly to OVG, including admissions taxes, leasehold excise taxes, and parking taxes, with no financial benefit to the city." That was also a claim made by the Hansen camp in their analysis.

AEG also hit OVG on the request to control parking garages, claiming it would cost taxpayers an estimated "$140 million in revenue to the City over the 35-year lease."  AEG also suggested the OVG plan to excavate 15 feet "creates steeply vertical seating angles and does not improve upon current sight lines." It also claimed that OVG's "car-centric proposal" requires a direct public subsidy of $47 million, and would create an additional traffic pinch point.

Tim Leiweke, founder and CEO of the Oak View Group, said in a statement:

“From the outset of the New Arena at Seattle Center RFP process, we have made it clear that our singular focus is what is best for the city of Seattle.  We believe that our proposal on its merits alone is the best vision for the New Arena at Seattle Center based on its design and financial feasibility.   Our team’s experience in the sports and entertainment industry is unparalleled.  I have been building and operating arenas for nearly 40 years.  In fact, before I built and ran AEG as its CEO, I was already in the business of building arenas and providing fans with wonderful entertainment viewing experiences.  Our hope is to do the same for Seattle.   Our partners in ICON and Populous are the two most experienced arena experts in the world.  Tim Romani at ICON and Chris Carver at Populous have designed and built more arenas than any other person in this business.  And they are on our OVG team.  The Madison Square Garden Company, who is also on our OVG team, is one of the most experienced arena operators in the world.  Not only do they own and operate Madison Square Garden, the most iconic and important sports and entertainment arena in the world, but also many other facilities and arenas around the world.  Lastly, our relationships with the NBA and NHL span decades.  I am one of the most experienced NBA and NHL executives, having served on the Board of Governors of both leagues, and count Commissioners Bettman and Silver as business colleagues and dear friends.”

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said this month, that he expects to speed up the decision on which bid to recommend to council, now by early June.  A council committee is charged with reviewing the terms of the bids, in addition to ruling on the SODO arena street vacation request.

 

© 2017 KING-TV


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