September 25, 2018 / 2:09 AM / in 3 months

Seattle council strongly backs new arena plans

With its focus firmly set on landing an expansion NHL franchise, and maybe a second go-round with the NBA, the city of Seattle on Monday marched forward with plans about where these teams would play.

FILE PHOTO: The Space Needle and Mount Rainier are pictured at dusk in Seattle, Washington March 12, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

Seattle’s City Council voted unanimously in favor of lease and development contracts that would mean the demolition of KeyArena, home of the former Seattle SuperSonics, with a new arena being built there.

“We’re starting a new day here in the city and a new partnership,” said Councilmember Debora Juarez, who chaired the council’s Select Committee on Civic Arenas, according to the Seattle Times.

The development agreements are with The Seattle Arena Company, also called ArenaCo, which intends to invest $700 million to build the new facility. KeyArena’s current roof is expected to be utilized at the new building.

The venue will seat from 17,000 to 19,000, depending on the event, according to the Seattle Times. The city hopes to land an NHL franchise by 2020, with an NBA team to follow at some point.

The lease approved Monday is for 39 years, with the possibility of two eight-year extensions.

Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group, which is one entity within ArenaCo, said in remarks to the City Council that the agreement would “create a world-class arena and ultimately add another huge point of destination in (Seattle Center).”

Leiweke reflected on the departure of the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City, saying the franchise’s exit took the “heart and soul out of Seattle Center.”

Juarez, in an obvious response to Leiweke, later praised the Seattle Storm, who recently won a WNBA championship.

“That was 10 years ago,” Juarez said of the Sonics leaving, according to the Seattle Times, “and you’ve kind of got to let that go.”

Seattle Hockey Partners, the group behind the city’s bid for a franchise, is slated to make a formal presentation to the NHL’s executive committee on Oct. 2. However, a vote on Seattle’s bid to receive an expansion club likely won’t be voted on until December.

—Field Level Media

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