Should KeyArena be subdivided? Concert promoters question idea

A pitch being made by the SoDo Arena investment group would turn KeyArena into multiple concert venues.

Should the City of Seattle subdivide KeyArena, instead of green-lighting a major rebuild at Seattle Center?

It's a concept pitched by SoDo Arena investor Chris Hansen, as a solution to his request to build a new sports complex in the southern part of town.

Hansen, in consultation with HOK architects, says it is possible to do a $100 million private renovation of the KeyArena structure to include a 6,200 seat performing arts center, 3,000-seat outdoor amphitheater, and new underground parking.  A 500-seat concert hall is also shown in the designs.

"We believe the reduced capacities and added parking for these two venues would greatly reduce the traffic and transportation impacts on the surrounding residents and businesses that plague alternative proposals to redevelop KeyArena," wrote the Hansen group.

But on Tuesday, two leading concert promoters said it would hurt the marketplace.

Jeff Trisler, who runs the Northwest Division of LiveNation, said: "To hack it up, and chop it up, and make it something small doesn't feel like a very good situation." 

LiveNation is an equity partner in the Oak View Group proposal to renovate and rebuild the KeyArena site.  Trisler says his company does about 24 shows and is looking to do 40 shows a year in the new building.

He says three smaller venues would compete with a geographically wide series of smaller venues, including Benaroya Hall, White River Amphitheater, the XFinity Events Center in Everett, Chateau St. Michelle in Woodinville, Casinos in Tulalip and Snoqualmie, and the WaMu Theater at Century Link Field.

Josh Labelle, Executive Director of the Seattle Theater Group, also is unsure of Hansen's Key proposal.  STG runs the Paramount Theater, Moore Theater, and Neptune Theater as well.  All are small venues which seat between 800-3,000 people. 

"What kind of new artistic performance or concerts bring to our market that aren't already happening here," he said Tuesday. "I want to understand if our market is missing anything?"

"As a whole, I believe it is not viable," Labelle added. "I don't think it has much merit, and I would be concerned if I was City Council, looking at that about what kind of impact it would have on the public."

The Hansen proposal came just a few days before the city announced a tentative deal with OVG on a $660 million new arena package for Seattle Center.  The latter received its first public review on Monday.  Hansen has re-filed his street vacation petition for a block of Occidental Avenue South, which would allow him to build a privately financed NBA and NHL capable arena.  SDOT signaled earlier this year that request was on hold while the KeyArena proposal review was underway.

But that was under a different mayor, Ed Murray.  New Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess was asked Tuesday by KING 5 about forwarding the petition.

"I've not decided that yet," he said.
 

© 2017 KING-TV


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