Murray announces advisory panel for KeyArena redevelopment; team includes NBA, NHL alums

SEATTLE — Former Sonics Coach Lenny Wilkens, an executive vice president with Subpop Records and a former professional hockey player are part of an arena advisory panel gathered to consider proposals to redevelop the KeyArena with the hopes of bringing the NBA back to Seattle.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced the 10-member arena advisory panel Thursday.

He said the panel will review projected proposals put forth by investment groups looking to redevelop KeyArena with the intention of hosting NBA and NHL events.

"Seattle is in a unique position with multiple interested parties who want to invest in the kind of arena that could attract music, sports, and entertainment to our growing region," Murray said. "We are paving the way for the Sonics to come home and to build a world-class entertainment venue in Seattle, and I look forward to working with this panel on the possibility of KeyArena being part of that path."

Members of the advisory panel are:

  • Lenny Wilkens, Legendary Sonics Coach Three-Time Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee,
  • Jan Levy, Executive Director, Leadership Tomorrow; Chair, Seattle Center Advisory Committee
  • Deborah Frausto, Uptown Alliance
  • Nicole Grant, Executive Secretary, King-County Labor Council
  • Ethan Stowell, Ethan Stowell Restaurants
  • Ollie Garrett, President, Tabor 100
  • Megan Jasper, EVP, Subpop Records; Seattle Music Commission
  • Todd Humphrey, Co-Founder, and Chief Commercial Officer, League Inc.; former professional hockey player
  • Jill Nishi, Director, Office of the President and Chief of Staff, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Rico Quirindongo, Architect, DLR Group; One Center City Advisory Group

Two development companies have expressed interest in redevelopment of the former home of the Seattle SuperSonics and current facility for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.

Seattle says it will consider a possible complete tear down and rebuild of the facility as part of a request for proposals.

A potential roadblock to the project is whether the roof of the 56-year-old facility gains historic status, which would limit redevelopment options outside the current footprint.

The KeyArena project is also competing with investor Chris Hansen and his hopes of building an arena in Seattle’s stadium district near CenturyLink and Safeco Field.

The mayor said the city will create a three-pronged approach to reviewing RFP bid proposals, involving multiple review teams.

Key Arena, built in 1960 and renovated in 1994, currently hosts more than 100 events each year.