State-of-the-art design. Improved viewing angles, with markedly enhanced sight lines for all seating categories, comfortable concourses, modern premium suites, extensive outdoor public space and a flexible seating-capacity design.
Design limitations due to redevelopment of an existing structure, such as size, the landmark roof structure, and the lack of adequate ingress and egress to the building.
Potential for NBA or NHL Team Acquisition
Negotiations with NBA and potential NHL ownership groups could begin upon approval of the conditional street vacation, meaning teams could be acquired as early as 2017.
Bidding for teams would likely not begin until 2024. The public financing request, Environmental Impact Statement and construction timeline will likely push the new arena opening out 5-7 years. Demolition during the rebuild leaves no adequate facility in the City or immediate vicinity for a team to play in the interim.
SoDo Arena would be built and open to the public in ~2 years. If an NBA or NHL team was acquired sooner, the team(s) would play in KeyArena until the SoDo Arena construction was complete. KeyArena would be upgraded at SoDo Arena expense to bring it up to NBA or NHL standards.
Any KeyArena rehabilitation project will likely take between 5-7 years.
Financial Risk to the City
The SoDo Arena is 100% privately financed. The risks to the City from the SoDo Arena are minimal and far less than those embedded in both the SP and OVG proposals. The SoDo Arena ownership group has already invested over $100 million in land and entitlement costs, and has committed to privately fund all future entitlements, construction (and any overruns), maintenance, operations and capital improvements for the Arena.
The Seattle Partners (SP) and Oak View Group (OVG) KeyArena redevelopment proposals ask for over $200 million in public subsidies. This includes subsidies for construction, lease excise tax, parking tax, utility relief, landmark designation benefits and admissions tax. The City would be at risk for all cost overruns associated with “risks beyond the reasonable control” and enhancements or changes that are “for the benefit of the City.”
The SoDo Arena proposal does not ask the City for the exclusive right to build an arena and will not preclude another developer from rehabilitating the KeyArena sight if the SoDo Arena proposal is approved, leaving the door open for a future two-arena Seattle market.
The SP and OVG proposals aim to block the development of any competing arenas in Seattle. If SP or OVG are granted exclusive rights to build an arena in Seattle, it could push prospective NBA and NHL owners to look outside the City of Seattle to take advantage of more economically advantageous arena sites.
The SoDo Arena financing structure is a “sports first” model, as opposed to the “music first” model of the OVG proposal. The SoDo Arena finance model is structured so revenue streams (naming rights, sponsorships, suite sales, etc.) will flow directly to support the acquisition of NBA and NHL teams, making the SoDo Arena a more attractive financial proposal for most prospective professional sports clubs.
The SP and OVG financial models rely heavily on compensation to third-party operators of music and entertainment events. This could impact sports calendar flexibility, operating priorities, and revenue sharing decisions — all of which could make the acquisition of a pro sports team more challenging.
Transportation and Parking
Transit and parking considerations in the SoDo neighborhood are vastly superior to the Seattle Center neighborhood. The SoDo neighborhood is the region’s largest transportation hub, where high-capacity public transit, two interstate freeways and ample on and off-street parking converge.
Parking and multimodal transportation options are far more constrained around Seattle Center, which regularly experiences parking shortages and crippling surface-street congestion during peak event times.