Seattle Budget Director: Both KeyArena bids seek public funds

Two bids for a renovated KeyArena will require some form of public money. Council member Tim Burgess asked the City's budget director about the bids to build a new arena at Seattle Center.

Seattle's budget director acknowledged Monday that both KeyArena bidders are seeking some sort of public funding for a new arena project at Seattle Center.

Seattle council member Tim Burgess asked Seattle Budget Director Ben Noble at the Seattle City Council's first Select Committee on Civic Arena whether AEG and the Oak View Group planned to use "public funds to assist this enterprise in some way."

"I think that's fair, and in the context of a public arena, they think that that's appropriate," Noble replied.

It's unclear just how much, however.

It may have been the only thing that raised an eyebrow during the hearing, the first since the two companies submitted their bids last week.

OVG says they could essentially do a gut remodel of the existing KeyArena for $562 million. AEG, teaming up with Hudson Pacific, says they could do it for $500 million.  

Noble pointed out that the offers come with the assumption that the City would retain ownership of the land, but with upkeep "there is an acknowledgement those costs be shared."  

He also confirmed the proposal from AEG/Hudson, who are calling themselves "Seattle Partners," is consistent with the original financing proposal for the SODO arena.

Council member Debora Juarez, who is co-chairing the committee, said multiple times the KeyArena renovation proposals are running on a parallel track with SODO, but not in a competition. The Chris Hansen-led SODO plan is still seeking a street vacation petition for a one-block stretch of Occidental, in order to build a privately financed arena.

Seattle Economic Development Director Brian Surratt noted that the two KeyArena bids are "serious proposals."

The lengthy meeting for the most part gave the council a general overview of the proposal and the process going forward. Multiple council members asked questions, including Mike O'Brien, who asked whether a KeyArena deal would mean "we hand over everything, or (is it) a partnership?"

Only a handful of members of the public testified about the developments.  A representative from Pottery Northwest, which operates in one of the buildings targeted for demolition in a renovation, told the council the organization would like to be integrated into the redevelopment or placed somewhere else on campus.

The council is expected to meet again on the issue in May, and the mayor is planning to make a preferred choice for a developer by the end of June.

Hansen's vacation petition is in process.  The project's website, SonicsArena.com, notes that it is seeking "a waiver of the city's admissions tax and an adjustment of the city's B&O tax for revenue generated out of town".

© 2017 KING-TV


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