Report: Leiweke group picked to lead KeyArena renovation project

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The Oak View Group, led by CEO Tim Leiweke, will be selected to lead the KeyArena renovation project, according to KING 5.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is scheduled to make an official announcement Wednesday afternoon. The news comes just a few days after Seattle Partners, another private firm vying to lead the re-development of the arena, had withdrawn from the bidding process.

Wednesday’s announcement will mark another development in the ongoing Seattle arena saga, which has been ongoing for years, while at the same time spurring talk the city could become a destination for the NHL and/or NBA.NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has in the past said that Seattle isn’t really an option for expansion or relocation until the city gets a viable arena.

In an interview with the Seattle Times, Leiweke, who served as a president and CEO of AEG, which owns the L.A. Kings, and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment based out of Toronto, said the project to renovate KeyArena would take between three and four years. In his estimation, that would be perfect timing.

“But we believe it’s three years,’’ Leiweke told the Seattle Times.

“We believe that there is no franchise today in the National Hockey League or in the National Basketball Association that is in danger of being lost as an opportunity over the next few years. And we believe that should (NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman make a decision to expand, that if you look at the last process they just went through, it was a three- to four-year process to get that building built and to get that (Las Vegas) team up and running this next season.”

The possibility of a KeyArena renovation had thrown Chris Hansen’s brand new SoDo arena project into question.

In October 2016, in another twist, Hansen offered to forego public funding for the project. However, prior to Wednesday’s announcement, in conversation with KING 5, Seattle’s mayor was adamant that the KeyArena project is the one he’d prefer to move forward with.

“The current arena, KeyArena, is a city property. It is a tax liability to the folks who live in this city. If you have a new arena somewhere else than KeyArena, we basically have an empty building and it’s going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars on our own dime to do something with it,” said Murray, adding that council can’t vote on the KeyArena project until Dec. 4.

“This arena is going to happen, and happen in that spot.”