The Seattle City Council has approved a $600 million renovation of Key Arena to attract an NHL team (and possibly an NBA team back) to the emerald city. The plan is to have the renovation completed by October 2020, in time for the start of the ‘20-‘21 NHL season. The NHL is expected to decide in July if it will be relocating an existing team to the market or if it will award the city an expansion franchise; the league would like to balance out its conferences (currently 31 teams) and has arena issues in both Calgary and Arizona that need to be addressed.
Howie Long-Short: The approved deal is between the city and Tim Leiweke’s Oak View Group (OVG); an advisory, development and investment company for the sports and live entertainment industries. The Oak View Group is fully financing the $600 million deal (i.e. no public funding) and will contribute an additional $40 million to mitigate traffic and parking problems around the arena; with another $20 million going to local charities. You can’t invest directly in the Oak View Group, but you can play the Key Arena project through them. Azoff MSG entertainment, a joint venture between Irving Azoff’s management firm and the Madison Square Garden Co. (MSG), has invested in the OVG.
Fan Marino: I’m confident that Seattle is going to land an NHL franchise, but if they don’t, it wouldn’t be the first time OVG built an arena without delivering the promised tenant. The group built the Sprint Center in Kansas City, promising to land a winter sports franchise within 2 years. The planned relocation (Pittsburgh Penguins) fell through and no local ownership group (with interest in purchasing an NHL or NBA team) has emerged since. That won’t be an issue in Seattle. A prospective ownership group already exists, including; investment banker David Bonderman and movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
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