NHL Welcomes Expansion Application from Seattle

 Finance, MOU, Other Arenas  Comments Off on NHL Welcomes Expansion Application from Seattle
Dec 082017
 

After 5 long years of being a “tag along” on the SoDo arena plans, local NHL fans have something to rejoice over.  The NHL Board of Governors’ meeting was occurring this week and Seattle’s new MOU with OVG was an inevitable topic.  The board discussed Seattle’s new arena plans and welcomed an application, with a $650 million expansion fee.  Fortunately, OVG has some fairly deep pocketed friends who have been interested in owning a NHL team.

The local reaction was enthusiastic (even if old-school NHL gear was bright enough fans could still make out players through a dense fog and cataracts).

The NHL is so confident in the bid the group authorized a season ticket drive similar to what happened in Las Vegas. Unlike prior non-league-sanctioned ticket waiting lists concerning the NBA’s Kings, the Las Vegas NHL ticket drive involved a deposit.

All of this bodes well for locking in a good deal on a new arena in town and having a professional sport to occupy it soon.  The NBA is still elusive, but at least one team will reduce the number of people intent on public pillory of Leiweke.

OVG CEO Tim Leiweke going as far as asking Seattle to hold him accountable.

“If we don’t have a franchise a year from now, they should take me and put me on top of that arena and while they start tearing that arena down, they should let me dive into the middle of the rubble because I haven’t done my job,” said Leiweke this week.

Added below the break are roundtable interviews put out by Sonics Rising with John Barr, Chris Daniels, and Brian Robinson as well as a “mega fan meeting” with OVG’s Leiweke held after Mayor Durkan signed the MOU.  Continue reading »

Mayor Jenny Durkan Signs OVG MOU, Making MOU Officially a “Go”

 Finance, MOU, Other Arenas  Comments Off on Mayor Jenny Durkan Signs OVG MOU, Making MOU Officially a “Go”
Dec 072017
 

The MOU for a New Arena At Seattle Center, built and operated by Oak View Group, was officially signed by the Mayor and Tim Leiweke in a ceremony at the KeyArena on Wednesday December 6, 2017.  The event included some scolding (but no 4 letter words) of reporter Chris Daniels (later gifted Sonics socks), questions about next moves to acquire teams, questions about “other competing arenas,” and a lot more joy than has been seen at many other press conferences in Seattle of late.  The actual signing of the document produced some special “gift” pens from Mayor Jenny to CM Juarez and CM Bagshaw, although Tim was clearly less focused on rotating through ceremonial pens and more focused on getting on with building the arena/acquiring teams.  Good man, Mr Leiweke.

Video of the press conference and an embedded version of Chris Daniels and Chris Cashman’s The Next Best Podcast episode about the “OVG Enthusiasm Gap” are below the break.  The news that came out from the NHL board of governors the following day is closing that gap, rapidly.

Still unclear is if the Seattle City Council is going to exempt the OVG MOU from I-91 (SMC 20.47) or if the city council will actually try to figure out a calculation for the “cash value” of an arena lease for 55 years to determine I-91 compliance.  While I have faith that the “cash and property” being leased will be a gain of significant value to the city, the calculations are messy and easily challenged in court.  Prior coverage has suggested the council considered explicit exemption in the MOU but the version signed does not reference I-91 or the Seattle Municipal Code Section 20.47.
Continue reading »

New Arena at Seattle Center / OVG MOU Approved 7-1 by Seattle City Council

 MOU, Other Arenas, Property  Comments Off on New Arena at Seattle Center / OVG MOU Approved 7-1 by Seattle City Council
Dec 042017
 

King5’s Chris Daniels has a thorough write-up of how the Seattle arena process has shifted from SoDo to Seattle Center, culminating in the MOU with Oak View Group being approved by the Seattle City Council.  The audio segments are particularly delightful, hearing a city councilmember fired up and discussing how she developed an arena plan while a few members of the public denigrated her character.  She clearly lays out the counter-argument that the SoDo MOU played out but ArenaCo failed to deliver on their duty, the NBA team (although the wealthiest member of ArenaCo did go rogue and buy a NBA team in So Cal).

The Daniels article runs down how the Seattle Center arena proposal was carefully crafted with city councilmembers working on their favored topics, ultimately crafting the MOU draft that was approved by a 7-1 vote today (councilmember Lorena Gonzalez not being present due to prior plans for her wedding).  Amazingly, a usual contrarian on the city council, even Socialist Kshama Sawant voted to sign onto this public-private development involving 1%’ers.  Testimony surrounding her vote made it clear that she was able to secure enough labor provisions that she wanted to see this MOU go forward.

Audio segments and the Dec 4 2017 Full Council video after the break  – Continue reading »

Seattle Center Arena Replacement By Oak View Group In December 2017?

 Finance, MOU, Other Arenas, Property  Comments Off on Seattle Center Arena Replacement By Oak View Group In December 2017?
Dec 032017
 

After a long RFP process involving multiple bidders (although Seattle Partners/AEG withdrew when their proposal involving city $250 million in city bonds was not well received) and some additional negotiation, it appears that Seattle’s quest for a new arena suitable for the NHL and NBA is coming to a close on Monday. This has caused some gnashing of teeth among those devoted to Chris Hansen and his plans, which we’ll save for later.

Seattle Center Arena Has Needed Renovation and Waiting on ArenaCo Isn’t Forward Progress

The KeyArena at Seattle Center has been a looming white elephant for the city, thanks to demands of the prior NBA franchise ownership to refurbish the facility with a questionable configuration for hockey. Some reports have suggested that the prior ownership was happy to explore NHL teams and then scuttled that plan in a scorched-earth move, capped by the offset ice re-build. The AECOM report of KeyArena options that the city commissioned outlined multiple scenarios, all requiring 9 figure investments with a future profitability very uncertain, particularly if another large arena is built in the city. At the same time, the Seattle Center arena’s city ownership requires the city make some plans for major investments to keep up with amenity standards, even as a concert, WNBA, and college basketball venue.

AECOM’s report included rough estimates of project costs to repurpose KeyArena, all well into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Projections for Key to be self-sustaining were widespread. A2 required no competing large arena in town and B2 required the NBA to play in the renovated KeyArena space

Additional details about the options from the AECOM study are also below.

Details on how the KeyArena would be reconfigured under the scenarios analyzed.

The basis of AECOM’s estimates included modest investment (A1+2), significant renovations preserving pro-sports capacity (B1+2), significant repurposing into multiple entertainment venues (C) and even “something else” (D).

Under both AECOM scenarios with an arena also built in SoDo (A1 and C), the Key projects loses money. Only the Key as the primary arena in town (A2) or with a NBA tenant (B2) would have projected profits. This doesn’t bode well for the future of the Key if the ArenaCo group converts it into a secondary venue. Even the configuration ArenaCo proposed in September as a secondary venue is different from Scenario C, lacking acoustically divided stages and with a lower maximum capacity, which could be even less profitable.

ArenaCo’s Composition and Faith In Their Ability to Complete Project Has Changed

While the SoDo group has done an admirable job of crafting a good deal for the city, re-authorizing the city’s partnership with the ArenaCo group without a plan to actually build an arena ahead of a sports franchise would be turning our collective backs on going forward with having a new arena in Seattle. ArenaCo’s named investors, with the loss of the $37B investor, no longer have the majority of the capital once advertised for the expensive project of building an arena with mostly-private funds and purchasing professional sports team(s).

KeyArena vs SoDo Site Size – Revisited

 Property  Comments Off on KeyArena vs SoDo Site Size – Revisited
May 212017
 

Early in this process, an examination of the proposed arena site in SoDo was done through google maps and scale overlays of other, existing arenas.  The zoom feature and dimensions bar in Google Maps was used to scale pictures appropriately, but it was an imprecise methodology.  With the recent KeyArena proposals and continued submissions of SoDo arena documents, we have some professionally sourced dimensions available in public documents and can revisit the SoDo site size compared to what’s available at KeyArena.

The ArenaCo property is outlined in red. KeyArena was automatically at the same scale and easily overlaid. Transparency enabled so you can see the red property lines.

KeyArena Size (Roof = 408 x 408 ft)

The AEG/Seattle Partners sketches include dimensions of the roof of KeyArena (“83% of the existing 166,400 square feet of roof area is being maintained”), which reduces to 408 linear feet on each side if we assume a simple 2D square.  The exterior dimensions of KeyArena could be smaller if AEG calculated square feet along the inclined roof surface.

SoDo Arena Size (357 x 515 (W end) or 695 ft (E end))

In the SoDo arena, we have street vacation requests that include surveys of the area.  The rough dimensions of Hansen’s arena footprint is on land that is 398 ft by ~680 / 710 ft.  The SoDo proposal (big pdf) constructs a 32.8 ft wide access road on the East side of the site and has a 8.4 ft setback from the 100 ft width of 1st Ave S, which leaves a SoDo arena building that’s 356.8 ft wide.  The land has quite a bit more space in the North-South direction, which is used to construct the NBA team’s practice facility on a four-level parking garage on the Northeast corner.  There is also a section of S Massachusetts St that gets included in the street vacation.

Survey shows dimensions of SoDo land available to build on.

SoDo Arena dimensions from Street Vacation Application

Ultimately, this confirms that the KeyArena site was not too small for an arena, even a modern arena, when you get a little more space outside the old roofline.  The OVG proposal for KeyArena includes an atrium area and parking garage built off the South end of KeyArena.  The Seattle Partners/AEG proposal involves underground excavation, the south end of the roof being extended, and the whole seating bowl being adjusted so it no longer sits centered under the apex of the KeyArena roof.

OVG creates more above-ground structure to the South and links them through an atrium

The Seattle Partners plan for KeyArena involves extensions underground and to the South with the old roof offset from the new seating bowl

KeyArena Rebuild RFPs Are In

 Other Arenas, Property  Comments Off on KeyArena Rebuild RFPs Are In
May 012017
 

KeyArena RFP Responses

The KeyArena RFP announced by Ed Murray back in October 2016 has had more detailed, although still annotated as “redacted for public,” responses.  The AEG/Seattle Partners response is a 6 page executive summary and a 690 page full proposal pdf that includes letters of support from other NBA team owners.  The Oak View Group has submitted a 3 page executive summary and a 108 page proposal.  This is going to take some time to comb through, so I’ll add more details when time permits.  I added the Key RFP page to the list of links above.

King5 has a story that summarizes some details of the proposals, which can give you some inspiration on what to look out for.

Russ Partners with SoDo Arena Group (ArenaCo) “not just for PR”

 Other Arenas, PR Campaign  Comments Off on Russ Partners with SoDo Arena Group (ArenaCo) “not just for PR”
Nov 142016
 

Chris Hansen’s “all private, but not really” arena plans needed to be re-injected into the news cycle a bit more and so there’s this

Bringing local celebrities into ownership groups is not exactly new, of course.  Will Smith owns a bit of the 76ers, Jay Z owned a tiny bit of the Barclay’s Center and Nets, Fergie and JLo (and many others) own a bit of the Dolphins, etc.

But, as far as generating local excitement for Hansen’s plans vs an almost-RFP’ed “something” to the KeyArena, this bit of news may be exciting enough to be worth giving Russell Wilson a chunk of the arena/team, if it happens.  (As these are usually private transactions, we have no idea if Russell becomes a partner as payment for endorsement services or if he signs a check from his personal bank account and the percentages involved have not been disclosed).

Now if only Hansen could find a NHL team not too cheap to participate in his privately financed arena.  Oh bother.

The Coyotes and Arizona State University announced that the Coyotes have entered into an exclusive negotiation agreement with Catellus Development Corp., ASU’s athletic facilities district developer, to work towards the finalization of a new arena and commercial development project within the 330-acre district along Tempe Town Lake.

Correction:  An “unnamed, but familiar” source says it’s not just for PR, but won’t tell us any terms of the arrangement.  Not just a PR figurehead could still be “we’ll give you 0.1% of the arena if you schmooze the right councilmembers and talk up the deal on sports radio”.

A person familiar with the agreement told KIRO Radio’s Michael Lewis that Wilson independently approached the Seattle Arena partnership, making it a five-member team. Wilson is a financial investor – not just a PR figurehead – in the partnership, though the source would not disclose the terms

May 022016
 

Videos will be posted later and we can all enjoy hearing councilmembers parade their personality today (be that Bruce’s sports phrase usage, Gonzales’ groaning at said sports phrases, Juarez’s talk of dams, or Johnson’s suggestion that 30% of the city is used for roads, as if a city can function with only 10′ footpaths and bus lanes).

Short summary – O’Brien, Burgess, Harrell, and Johnson voted in favor of the street vacation and Sawant, Herbold, Gonzales, Juarez, and Bagshaw voted against the street vacation.  There were many amendments and clarifications stated (including that a privately financed arena could be built to the terms of the MOU, excluding all those bits about public financing).  Interestingly, the Sonics Rising council vote live thread had a poll predicting the “yes” votes from the council which, at the start of the council meeting, had a tie between 4 and 5 (failing and passing), suggesting many knew all too well that the knife was being readied (insert GIF of proud new pappa Roose Bolton behind shived by “bastard” Ramsey Bolton).

Screencap from shortly after the full council vote concluded.

Screencap from shortly after the full council vote concluded.

In any event, now Hansen has to consider applying again?, changing his preferred site, or how he’ll design a privately financed arena with a public right of way running through the middle of it.  The location in SoDo requiring a street vacation has been something Hansen was pretty well set on, to the point of acquiring properties long before the MOU was even approved.  The current function of Occidental is why Hansen’s group carved a new North-South access road to the East of the arena.  It’s also a part of why the EIS’s site selection was somewhat lacking, it didn’t really give much imagination to using street-vacation-required parcels.  In many respects, this is the city council’s procedural way to escape this roller-coaster they’ve been on for years, particularly with a Nov 2017 expiration date functioning not so much as a deadline but being a harbinger of MOU re-negotiations/extensions.

Of course, Hansen does still own (or have options on) a bunch of land in SoDo, so he could still build LA Live-like attractions or parking garages or new commercial spaces like TV studios, if they pencil out.

Edit:  Video from the Seattle Channel has been posted.  The council takes up the street vacation at 1:12:15.