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KeyArena could be redeveloped into NBA, NHL arena

caption: KeyArena in Seattle Center
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KeyArena in Seattle Center
Flickr Photo/Doug Kerr (CC BY SA 2.0)/

The city of Seattle requested proposals for the redevelopment of KeyArena Wednesday.

Tearing down and rebuilding the arena is one option open to developers. However, the city says the arena meets criteria for landmark status so any proposal to tear down the current space must be accompanied by a proposal for redevelopment.

One thing the city wants to see in all bids is the potential for NBA and NHL games in the new KeyArena space.

That could mean the return of Seattle's pro basketball team the Sonics. But there's a competing proposal to bring NBA back.

The city has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a group, backed by investor Chris Hansen, for a proposed arena in Sodo.

Brian Suratt is the director of the city's office of economic development. He says the city has no plans to abandon that deal at this time.

“The city remains fully committed to the terms of the MOU and are supportive of Mr. Hansen's efforts to bring NBA basketball and possibly hockey back to Seattle,” Suratt said.

That agreement expires at the end of this year.

Hansen declined to comment on Wednesday's announcement.

Sonics fans have been big supporters of the Sodo arena plan. Kris Brannon is known as "the Sonics guy." He's been a fan of the basketball team since he was a child.

“I remember drawing pictures of them in my notebooks when the Lakers would beat us every year. It’s something that’s a part of my childhood, a part of my life and a part of this region,” Brannon said.

He’s in favor of any plan that will bring his team back to Seattle. But he said the Hansen plan makes more sense to him.

“It just seems like we're so close with this Hansen deal — I mean it's something we can touch, it's something that is there. To start all over, my gosh, that puts us another four or five years away,” he said.

Proposals for the KeyArena redevelopment are due April 12.

An FAQ document about the requests for proposals states that recommendations should be made to the mayor by the end of June.

Seattle is requesting proposals that will result in minimal financial commitment from the city. The city also intends to retain ownership of the land.

There's also a requirement that any transportation impacts are mitigated as part of the project.

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