The Seattle City Council approved a plan Monday to renovate the aging Key Arena with the goal of attracting an NHL or NBA team.
The $660 million project and any cost overruns will be covered entirely by the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group. The company claims it can reopen the arena by the fall of 2020.
Seattle has tried numerous times to build a new arena for a potential pro sports franchise but previous efforts have been unsuccessful. The closest call was Chris Hansen’s plan to build an arena in the city’s Sodo neighborhood, near where the Mariners and Seahawks play, but the council shot down his project with a 5–4 vote. (The OVG plan was approved by a 7–1 margin.) Hansen also had a memorandum of understanding with the city that would have provided him with $200 million public funds if he acquired an NBA franchise before Dec. 3. The expiration of that deal cleared the way for Monday’s vote.
While Seattle residents have been clamoring for an NBA team since the Sonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008, an NHL franchise is more likely in the short team. The league has 31 teams this season after expanding to Las Vegas and the NHL is considering other expansion opportunities. The new owner of the Rockets is reportedly looking to bring a team to Houston and Quebec City has been trying to bring major hockey to its brand new arena.