The City of Seattle may be one step closer to a possible NHL expansion team. On Monday evening, city council approved a memorandum of understanding with a Los Angeles-based company, Oak View Group, that would see the company privately finance a nearly $600 million remodel of the KeyArena.
The renovation will nearly double the square footage of Seattle KeyArena, improving the seating, amenities and bringing the building up to modern standards. The building, originally known as the Washington Pavillion, was built in 1962. It was the home of the Seattle SuperSonics before they moved to Oklahoma City.
The Arena was last renovated in 1995. It is currently home to the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. The city also supports the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, out of the Showare Centre. The junior hockey team averaged just under 5000 fans per game last season.
It clears the way for a NEW Arena at Seattle Center by 2020, and potential #NHL franchise.
— Chris Daniels (@ChrisDaniels5) December 5, 2017
Seattle KeyArena Re-Model Approved as City Eyes NHL Expansion
Oakview Group is focused on obtaining an NHL team. If all the environmental approvals and permits fall into place, the renovation will start by October 2018, and is scheduled to be completed by October 2020.
“I believe this is the best thing for the city of Seattle whoever you cheer for,” said Councilmember Debora Juarez, who co-chaired the council’s committee on civic arenas. She said she was proud of the agreement that was hammered out “at little or no costs to the taxpayers” and embodied the city’s values.
The success of the NHL’s expansion into Vegas, as well as the fact that the league is unbalanced at 31 teams, makes many believe that the NHL’s Board of Governors wants this expansion to happen soon. After receiving $500 million for the Golden Knights, another expansion team has been rumoured to have fees of $600 million or more.
“We feel extremely good about the partnership between the City of Seattle and OVG and respect and applaud the City in its ability to be thoughtful, collaborative, and deal focused throughout this process while maintaining the best interest of its citizens,” Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke said in a statement.
Potential owners of the NHL team include a group headed by billionaire David Bonderman and filmmaker Jerry Bruckheimer.