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Stacking up the potential arenas

A lot has happened over the last couple weeks. In an effort to bring us all up to speed, I created this summary comparison and analysis on the current situation of our Arena options. Below is a table of everything that is known about the two options the City of Seattle has on the table. I want to preface that there are many unknowns on the SoDo Arena side of the equation. This analysis isn’t intended to be a knock against the Hansen Group. They have not formally revealed many details about their plans and intended proposal to the City; therefore I can only share what I know. Note that there are several components that I am selectively excluding because I feel they are minor to the bigger picture. I anticipate updating this table over the next several months as we hear more about both proposals.


Goldman Sachs has revealed that they feel comfortable financing up to $200M of the ~$500M to remodel KeyArena with MSG and other partners supplying the difference. I haven’t been able to confirm this, but LiveNation and the potential NHL Owners might be contributing to the KeyArena project, as well. I believe it was mentioned, but I can’t find any details which is why I’ve kept it off the table. For the SoDo project, JP Morgan published a letter of support for financing the SoDo project.

Potential NHL Owners

One of the biggest announcements over the last weeks was the announcement of David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer. It is estimated that they are worth a collective $3.5 Billion. David Bonderman is a University of Washington grad. Jerry Bruckheimer is an icon in Hollywood and is known for producing TV hits like CSI, Amazing Race and wide range of movies from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise to Top Gun. He is also passionate about hockey. Maybe we can get him up here for the Ronald McDonald House Hockey Challenge this year. On the SoDo side, Hansen has not announced a potential NHL owner. The consensus is that he will need to announce a potential NHL partner to have a chance at evening the scales for SoDo.

Potential NBA Owners

OVG’s Tim Leiweke has made it very clear that the NBA is not expanding anytime soon. This was confirmed by Adam Silver and Steve Ballmer. If this is accurate, and I have no reason to not believe Leiweke, Silver, or Ballmer, then there really should be no reason to announce an NBA partner this far in advance. In SoDo, Hansen’s purpose is to be part of the NBA ownership group in his building. Most people I talk to in the sports business, estimate that an NBA team could cost close to $1.2Billion. The Hansen Group does not have that kind of money to be the majority owner and will need to bring in some big money to pay for a potential NBA franchise down the road.

Estimated Open Date

OVG and the City of Seattle have stated that a realistic timeframe to open the remodeled KeyArena would be October 2021. SoDo could be built on a quicker timeline, but according to the Hansen Group, they won’t build until an NBA team is obtained. As stated above, there are no plans for NBA expansion; therefore this creates some uncertainty on when this project could be completed.

Strategic Partnerships

As part of the RFP response and the press conference, OVG identified several powerhouse partners in the global Arena Management space. The Hansen Group has not announced any strategic partnerships for his arena, primary because they haven’t needed to just yet. It’s also conceivable that some of these strategic partners could align with Hansen should the SoDo project emerge as the winner.

Key Local Support

It has been well documented that the Mariners and to a lesser extent, the Seahawks and Sounders, have not welcomed the SoDo arena proposal to their neighborhood. Therefore, it is no surprise that these teams have aligned to the KeyArena plan outside of their neighborhood. OVG has also worked with the Seattle Storm to make sure their needs and concerns are met should the KeyArena project be approved.


For all components in my assessment above, the scales seem to tip in favor of KeyArena. This might seem rather one sided, but only because we have the most information from the KeyArena proposal. The Hansen Group may or may not start filling in the blanks to help their chance of success.

John Barr
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