KeyArena RFP

The City received two proposals for the redevelopment of KeyArena. The proposals submitted were designed to accommodate both the NBA and NHL, and both paid special attention to a high-quality music and entertainment experience.

The City reviewed the proposals with the assistance of the Arena Community Advisory Panel. Recommendations were delivered to the Mayor in June. 

The preferred partner in negotiations with the City is Oak View Group.

The RFP Process

The City of Seattle sought proposals from parties interested in redeveloping and operating KeyArena at Seattle Center as a world-class civic arena presenting music, entertainment, and sports events, including the potential for NBA and NHL events. Responses were due to the Office of Economic Development by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, 2017.

The City of Seattle hosted an open house with the proposers and the public on May 11 at KEXP from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM so the public could learn more about the proposals.

For more information, email OED at

Press releases: 



Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why renovate or redevelop KeyArena?

A: The City of Seattle was approached by several parties interested in redeveloping KeyArena.
The last major renovation to KeyArena was in 1995. As owners of the arena, the City is committed to a redevelopment plan that provides a venue to serve the civic and entertainment needs of our region, enhances the vibrancy of Seattle Center and surrounding neighborhoods, and could open the door to possible NBA and NHL teams.

Q: What impact does this have on the current MOU agreement for a possible SoDo arena?

A: The City remains fully committed to the terms of the MOU, and is supportive of ArenaCo's efforts to return NBA basketball and attract NHL hockey to Seattle. However, the City must also consider the potential opportunity represented by KeyArena, should the MOU not be fulfilled and/or the ArenaCo project not move forward.

Q: Will the redevelopment of KeyArena bring an NBA and/or NHL team to Seattle?

A: The City is looking for proposals from all interested parties that will redevelop and operate KeyArena as a world-class civic arena offering music, entertainment and sporting events, including the potential for NBA and NHL events.
Both AEG and Oak View group have relationships with the NBA and NHL.

Q: Why now?

A: We feel the timing is right, given the growth of the City. The City of Seattle was approached by several parties interested in redeveloping KeyArena. We also are at a place in time where we need to focus on the future of Seattle Center. We are in a unique situation with significant interest in the city's options for music, entertainment, and sporting events. We are in the midst of a holistic Seattle Center planning and visioning process that includes a mobility strategy. Given the age of the building, KeyArena does not meet current standards, and this creates an opportunity to develop a world-class arena.

Q: How will this impact transportation in the region if KeyArena is booked an additional 80-100 nights a year?

A: KeyArena, alongside Seattle Center, currently hosts approx. 100 events each year. Over 12 million people visit Seattle Center every year, and many events are planned during non-peak traffic times. However, as a part of the RFP, we asked submitters to provide new strategies and fund mitigation of transportation impacts due to construction and operation as a part of their proposal to help address this concern.
Both bidders offered ideas about how to improve transportation. City staff will review those proposals, while simultaneously considering future transportation planning for the region. Any solution for the neighborhood will be multimodal.

Q: Will the renovation require any public funds?

A: In the RFP objectives, we asked for minimal City financial participation. Both bidders are bringing more than a half billion dollars to the table. Both bidders have requested some form of a financial partnership with the City. Since the Seattle Center Arena is owned by the City, the City Budget Office will evaluate both proposals to determine the full cost and benefit to City finances. The City, if it chooses a bidder, will negotiate the best deal for Seattle with minimal City financial participation.

Q: What is the timeline of the RFP process?

A: Proposals were due on April 12 at 5:00 PM. City staff and an Arena Community Advisory Panel are reviewing both bids.

The Executive Review Team will make a recommendation to the Mayor by the end of June 2017.

If the Mayor chooses one of the proposals, the Seattle City Council would vote on a final MOU and/or Lease Agreement.

Follow developments at

Q: How will you involve the community in the RFP process? 

A: The City is committed to regularly updating the community, including area residents and businesses, on the progress of the RFP and potential future impacts.

The public is invited to attend an open house on May 11 from 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM at KEXP to learn more about both proposals.

Q: Why move forward with KeyArena when SoDo is an option?

A: We need to focus on a plan that can work for the City and our residents. KeyArena has housed many entertainment options and sporting events throughout its history. We are committed to finding a viable solution that provides a venue that supports the civic and entertainment needs of our region. The City remains fully committed to the terms of the MOU between the City, King County, and ArenaCo. The City is supportive of ArenaCo's efforts to return NBA basketball and attract NHL hockey to Seattle. The City must also consider the potential opportunity represented by KeyArena, should the MOU not be fulfilled and/or the ArenaCo project not move forward.

Q: Is the City of Seattle in communication with the NBA or NHL?
A: We are in ongoing conversations with both organizations.

Q: Are you committed to rebuilding KeyArena without a guarantee of an NBA or NHL team?

A: We are exploring all our options. What we can say is that we are focusing on a venue that can accommodate music, entertainment, and civic events. We also required proposals to meet NBA and NHL standards.
Both bidders have relationships with both the NBA and NHL. Both bidders submitted plans that are to meet the requirements of the NBA and NHL.

Q: What is the timeframe of the redevelopment project?

A: Details are spelled out in the RFP, which can be found at Proposers included an estimated schedule, which may include landmark and SEPA review, design, permitting, and construction. The specific timing remains to be determined, but we estimate that planning to completion of construction will take approximately three to five years.

Q: What does the RFP include as part of its redevelopment request?

A: It is the KeyArena site and the property south to John Street. Specifically, it includes these buildings and properties: KeyArena, West Court Building, NASA Building, Restroom Pavilion, Seattle Center Pavilion, Blue Spruce Building, 1st Ave N Parking Garage, Pottery Northwest/Park Place.

Q: Is KeyArena designated a landmark?

A: A 2013 landmark study performed for Seattle Center indicates that KeyArena meets all six of the criteria for landmark designation. The City of Seattle initiated the process to review landmark status of the facility. We will take this into careful consideration and are asking our RFP responders to do the same. The City of Seattle's Landmarks Preservation Board, working with the Department of Neighborhoods, is responsible for administering the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
Both bidders submitted proposals that preserved KeyArena's iconic roofline.

Q: What has happened to KeyArena since the Sonics left in 2008?

A: In 2016 alone, the arena welcomed approx. 570,000 guests at nearly 100 events, up from 531,000 guests in the previous year. 2016 marked the sixth straight year that KeyArena ranked in the Pollstar top 100 arenas worldwide based on concert ticket sales. It also marks the sixth year in a row the arena has generated a significant net revenue. Those funds are used to support Seattle Center public programming and the entire campus.
In 2017, KeyArena will host the WNBA Seattle Storm, Seattle University Men's Basketball, WWE Smackdown, Ariana Grande, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Shawn Mendes, Chris Tomlin, Harlem Globetrotters, 2017 PAC-12 Women's Basketball Tournament, WNBA All-Star 2017 game, Lionel Ritchie and Mariah Carey, Neil Diamond, and many more.

Q: What will happen to KEXP and the other nearby facilities?

A: Facilities north of KeyArena including KEXP, Vera Project, SIFF and the North Plaza are not included in the boundaries of the redevelopment site.

Q: Who is managing the request for proposals?

A: The City of Seattle through the Office of Economic Development (OED), led by Director Brian Surratt.

Q: Who do I contact to share my suggestions and input?

A: The general public can send us input via this form. Press should reach out to OED's PIO.