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Another hurdle cleared for $700 million KeyArena renovation

The deadline for a written challenge to the environmental review of the Seattle Center arena project passed Thursday without any opposition. A challenge would have likely thrown off the timeline to begin demolition on the current KeyArena site in December.

Thursday’s 5 p.m. deadline came without a challenge to Seattle's $700 million Arena project at Seattle Center.

The Seattle Hearing Examiner set the Thursday afternoon deadline for any written challenge to the environmental review on the project. The Oak View Group (OVG), which is leading the project, proposed beginning demolition on the current KeyArena site in December.

A challenge would have thrown off that timeline, and likely the pursuit of an NHL franchise to play in the new building.

Also see | Seattle won't allow KeyArena demolition until NHL team awarded to city

It is another hurdle cleared as the Seattle City Council's Select Committee on Civic Arenas is set to take a final vote on the mega-deal Friday morning. OVG, led by Tim Leiweke, has spent two years navigating the turbulent civic waters, filled with multiple mayors, other arena proposals, and rancorous debate.

The committee will consider multiple amendments to the deal, including two late proposals from Councilmember Lisa Herbold. One amendment would require OVG to "create a fund to compensate tenant organizations for loss of revenues due to construction impacts. There is no required minimum dollar amount noted." The other would require the inclusion of the Seattle Children's Theater into any mitigation work during construction.

Also see: Tod Leiweke talks Seattle NHL team name, new practice facility

If the committee approves the legislation as expected, it will move to the full council for a final vote on September 24. The timeline is important because Seattle Hockey Partners, the name of the Seattle NHL investment group, is scheduled to make their pitch to NHL owners the following week about a $650 million expansion franchise to play in the new Arena.

The Seattle City Council and Mayor Jenny Durkan fine-tuned the final transaction documents, adding a late line item requiring the NHL to award a franchise to Seattle before beginning demolition. That, in theory, may not happen until a full board meeting in December, perhaps keying up the KeyArena demolition the same month.

OVG maintains it can open the new building, on the KeyArena site, in October of 2020.

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