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Update on Actions Related to SODO Arena Proposal

Design Concept Rendition - View from Beacon Hill (showing “contrasting cone” – architectural feature)

Design Concept Rendition – View from Beacon Hill (showing “contrasting cone” – architectural feature)

Last week, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Planning and Development (DPD), along with Council Central Staff, provided a status Update on Actions Related to SODO Arena Proposal to City Council.

Project Overview Map – Site Context

Project Overview Map – Site Context

The presentation included a brief review of the action taken on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Agreement between City, County and ArenaCo, which was approved by City Council and County Council on October 12, 2012. The MOU describes the process, timelines and outline of a business plan for potential partnerships to develop a new multi-use sports and entertainment facility, and negotiations are underway regarding much more detailed transaction documents. Public funding would flow only after Council approval of the transaction documents. ArenaCo has also started to engage the City’s permitting agencies. The Arena is in early design review and DPD is conducting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analysis required for the Master Use Permit (MUP).

City and County Working Together

City of Seattle and King County executive and legislative staff are working closely on all aspects of the project, and meet weekly.

The site is approximately 6.1 acres

The site is approximately 6.1 acres

Team Acquisition

The deal negotiated by Chris Hansen to acquire the Sacramento Kings from the Maloof family and Bob Hernreich for an enterprise value of $525 million was made public on January 21. The application materials to acquire and relocate the team to Seattle were being delivered to the National Basketball Association (NBA) in February and March. Next, the NBA Board of Governors will vote on both the acquisition and relocation at their April 19 meeting.

Implementation of MOU

The City and County are conducting due diligence of property of the proposed SODO Arena. Since the proposal is that the City would eventually own that property, they met with the Arena team’s real estate broker and the environmental consultant. The City has the right to approve the Schematic Design package.  Design standards include: being substantially similar to three other arenas that can accommodate NBA/NHL and complying with City requirements for sustainable construction.  The City will be hiring operations, design and construction expertise as part of this approval process. In this way, they are acting as a regulatory body as well as viewing it from an owner’s perspective.

Per MOU City/County team in active discussions on highly specific transaction agreements:

  • Ground lease and Lease with Option to Purchase
  • Arena Use Agreement
  • Umbrella Agreement

Council will review post environmental (SEPA) review so City can decide whether to proceed in light of that analysis. 

Economic Impact Analysis

The team selected a team of ProForma Advisors from Los Angeles area to do analysisTeam of City and County executive and legislative staff reviewed 6 consultant qualification/project approaches. A draft of the Economic Impact Analysis will be completed in April. City Council will need to consider the Analysis and determine if it is appropriate to proceed.

View Looking North on 1st Avenue (corner pedestrian entrance at 1st and Holgate)

View Looking North on 1st Avenue (corner pedestrian entrance at 1st and Holgate)

Planning and Transportation Studies

Per MOU, DPD undertaking two studies:

  • Study to protect the long term viability of the Greater Duwamish Manufacturing and Industrial Center (MIC) – The purpose is to undertake the planning and land use study to evaluate policies, land use and zoning mechanisms, such as the Port Overlay District to protect maritime and industrial uses and reinforce the role of the Greater Duwamish MIC as a manufacturing and industrial sanctuary.
  • The second study is to reevaluate the effectiveness of Stadium Transition Area Overlay District – consider policy and regulatory changes that would better orient the district to the needs and experience of the stadium patrons, improve pedestrian connections (to/from the stadiums), produce a pedestrian friendly streetscape that is compatible with Pioneer Square, and recognize the importance of preserving industrial uses outside of the district.

Stakeholder advisory groups are being formed for each study. DPD is scheduled to issue public draft recommendations in July 2013. The Mayor will send recommendations from both studies to Council in late 2013.

Per MOU and only if project goes forward, SDOT will be working on the SODO Transportation Fund, partnering with King County and the Port of Seattle, which would be seeded with $40 million in tax revenues.

Permitting Process

Design review is underway. The Draft EIS is underway as well. A consultant was hired and scoping EIS meetings have been completed. A Street Vacation for a portion of Occidental between Massachusetts and Holgate has been requested as part of the project. The application with the vacation petition is expected to be submitted to SDOT in mid-March and it will later be reviewed by the Design Commission.

View Looking South on 1st Avenue (shows elements of the public realm, such as the pedestrian plaza)

View Looking South on 1st Avenue (shows elements of the public realm, such as the pedestrian plaza)

DPD is following SEPA guidelines. As part of the Draft EIS, alternative sites are being evaluated. Potential sites are put through a series of screening criteria, such as size, zoning, availability of parking and mass transit, proximity to residential use zones, among other factors. Two of the sites that are being evaluated are in the SODO site: one would be a 20,000 seat-facility, while the other would have 18,000 seats. The other sites being evaluated are: one at the Key Arena and the other at the Memorial Stadium site. SEPA also requires that we evaluate a “no action” scenario.The design concepts are evolving and the design team continues to refine their design in response to the comments they receive from the Design Review Board.

The Draft EIS is expected to be completed in June and the Final EIS would be completed in November. This will be followed by the Council’s decision on the Street Vacation; then, the Master Use Permit decision can be made. The transaction documents are considered after the permitting process is complete.

Key Arena 

A basketball team playing in Key Area in the interim is a separate issue from a financial commitment that the City and County Council will have to consider; it’s a distinct issue MOU. This can be approved outside of the SEPA process. Currently, the City/Council team is negotiating terms for using this City facility; all options being considered and Mr. Hansen is interested in controlling all operations at Key Arena (will have to determine if that is feasible and advisable):

  1. Dates being held for 2013-14 NBA season starting in November. 
  2. Team would play in Key Arena for up to 3 seasons
  3. TeamCo will complete some capital Improvements
  4. Key Arena Repurposing study

Staff is in the process of choosing an advisory group in regards to the operations at Key Arena (Repurposing Study).

You may view the Council presentation video here:

For more information about the Arena Proposal, visit