Study boosts Sodo arena site as City Council preps for KeyArena

SEATTLE — Deadlines are coming to get KeyArena ready for prime time once again.

The plans just have to get through the City Council first.

“I also don’t want people to feel intimidated by the process, that it’s so big and so complicated, that there’s so much money, that anyone can sell us anything,” said council member Debora Juarez during Monday’s arena committee hearing.

It was the first meeting since Mayor Ed Murray selected Oak View Group as the winning bidder for the half-billion dollar KeyArena renovation.

Council and the mayor want a Memorandum of Understanding in place in September, and a possible final vote in December.

The city is bringing on yet another arena consultant, adding to the more than $2 million already spent on analysts for the Sodo project proposed by Chris Hansen.

“We developed a deal thoroughly vetted in public with an independent review group,” said former Mayor Mike McGinn, who helped craft the original Sodo deal and still supports it.

The project got a boost from a University of Washington study paid for Hansen.

It says that his private arena would net the city $100 million more than OVG’s KeyArena plan.

But the OVG deal with the city isn't done -- that's what the council is debating. The city technically hasn’t agreed to anything, so amendments and updates will happen. Including transportation fixes.

“Which is absolutely critical. One could argue that it was so significant on the Sodo project, that it was one of many factors to go sideways,” council member Bruce Harrell said.

It wasn’t the only criticism of the previous Sodo MOU.

It's a sense of deja vu, pitting the council against McGinn once again.

“I think in our Sodo experience, the process that was followed then disadvantaged the council because we learned about it all after the fact,” said council member Tim Burgess.

“Nice spin is what I would say to that. Because what they're doing is they're developing a process which they can collect their votes in private,” McGinn countered.

The council doesn't hide its intent---to get the most from a city building---when someone else is offering to pick up most of the tab.

“We own this property, but it isn't just for the city of Seattle. It's for the region, it's for King County, it's for the state of Washington,” Juarez said.

The committee will meet again in August and get a framework of the MOU in place for a September rollout.