Seattle Council votes to move forward with KeyArena redevelopment

SEATTLE — In a highly anticipated vote Monday, the full Seattle City Council decided to move forward with the $600 million renovation of KeyArena.

>> PHOTOS: What the renovated KeyArena could look like

The vote to approve a memorandum of understanding between the city and the Oak View Group passed 7-1. Councilmember Mike O'Brien voted no and Councilmember M. Lorena Gonzalez was absent.

"It's a world class arena at little or no cost to the taxpayers," said Councilmember Debora Juarez. "It embodies all the values of Seattle."

The privately funded renovation would modernize KeyArena into a world-class sports and entertainment venue and potentially make it home for NBA and NHL teams.

OVG plans to spend $660 million rebuilding the arena beneath its signature roof.

The long debate over an arena to house a potential return of the Sonics and an NHL team has pitted visions of a renovated KeyArena against a new arena in SoDo.

The memorandum of understanding gives the city a solution as to what to do with KeyArena -- a question that's largely gone unanswered since the Sonics left for Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, a group led by Chris Hansen recently proposed redeveloping KeyArena as a concert venue and building the new arena in SoDo, which would be entirely privately funded. Hansen made his case, once again, before the City Council in October.

"We're in it to the end.  We want to see an NBA team back here.  That's our ultimate goal and we'll stay committed to the process until that happens,” said Hansen.

The city of Seattle has consistently said Hansen and his group should have put that particular plan in during the request for proposal period.

OVG says the renovated KeyArena will be ready as soon as October 2020. OVG said it will contribute $40 million toward improving transportation connections around Seattle Center.

CEO Tim Leiweke attended the council meeting Monday, but said little to reporters. OVG released a statement that said, "While this vote marks another important step in the process, we have work to do. Out of respect to our new leader, Mayor Durkan, and our continued commitment to follow the appropriate process, we will reserve our comments until later this week when we anticipate the Mayor signing our agreement."

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