Leiweke "Absolutely Convinced" Seattle Would Land NBA/NHL Team If Arena Issue Solved
Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke said he is "absolutely convinced" Seattle will land an NBA or NHL franchise -- and possibly both -- if the city solves its arena challenge, according to Marc Stiles of the PUGET SOUND BUSINESS JOURNAL. Leiweke, who wants to renovate KeyArena, said that he and his colleagues are "working with 'many' would-be team owners" and that he is "prepared to be a minority owner of Seattle teams." Leiweke "confirmed that he is talking to Victor Coleman, the real estate executive who wants to bring a hockey team to town," but "declined to name other would-be pro sports franchise owners with whom he's had conversations." Leiweke said that if Seattle chooses OVG to renovate KeyArena, the company "would share the profits from the building with the owners of pro sports teams." But Stiles noted before talking to teams, Seattle "must figure out whether to invest in KeyArena or allow construction of a new venue." He noted AEG "also plans to submit a proposal to revamp KeyArena." The "other option is the Sodo neighborhood, where hedge fund manager Chris Hansen has been working for several years to build an arena." April 12 is the deadline for arena operators to submit redevelopment proposals for the 17,000-seat KeyArena (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/16). Seattle-based KING-NBC's Chris Daniels noted Leiweke and his designers and architects have "visited KeyArena six to seven times to develop potential plans." Leiweke said he believes that the project "can be done without 'any subsidies or risk to taxpayers.'" Daniels noted Leiweke "brushed aside suggestions that he wouldn't be able to work with potential NBA or NHL tenants if he's the building operator." Leiweke said that OVG "has had conversations with potential NHL franchise owners." Leiweke: "We're prepared to be equal partners with anyone that owns a team. They can share the arena with us. We will be 50/50 partners" (KING5.com, 3/16).
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: Leiweke said his project would take no more than “three or four years’’ to complete depending on the red tape involved. Leiweke: "Those that believe it's going to take us seven years to build the arena, I think that's incorrect." He also said that he is "assuming the NHL likely would come to Seattle ahead of [the] NBA and that his group’s KeyArena time frame is 'perfect' given the league’s recent expansion process" with the Golden Knights. Leiweke said that he is in "constant contact" with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, and has "been assured there is no imminent expansion or team relocation on the horizon" (Geoff Baker, SEATTLE TIMES, 3/17).