KeyArena Expansion Opposed

Members of Seattle’s Public Facilities District board, which oversees Safeco Field, are opposing a controversial plan to finance a $205 million expansion of KeyArena at Seattle Center.

The board unanimously voted to oppose House Bill 2209, introduced to the state legislature February 23rd. If the bill is approved, a portion of local tax revenue that is currently used for construction costs at Safeco and Qwest fields, as well as arts and tourism, will be extended past 2020 and designated for stadium use.

KeyArena’s 10-year construction debt of about $60 million would be retired and the expansion cost covered by the additional revenue, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Chairwoman Joan Enticknap said the members agreed to fight any plan that will divert money from Safeco Field since there is no alternative source of funding for improvements that will be necessary to maintain the facility.

“We do expect Safeco Field to last for over 100 years, and we are not kidding,” Enticknap told the paper. “We figure if Wrigley Field and Fenway Park can do it, then we can do it, too.

“That is our goal, and the only way we can do that is by being very careful stewards of this asset over its life.”

Seattle Center spokesman Perry Cooper said although he hasn’t heard specifically about the opposition, negotiations handled through the mayor’s office and Supersonics officials are ongoing.

“From what I understand from the Sonics, the deadline mentioned in the paper [for the bill] to get out of committee is not necessarily a firm, hard set deadline. They still feel they have time to do some convincing and work on it for this year,” Cooper told Pollstar.

“But the potential is, sure, this may be something the legislature says, ‘Thanks for showing up this time; maybe it’s something we address next year.’ The reaction from the legislature is key to it, at this point.”

The proposed renovation includes expanding KeyArena from 368,000 square feet to 730,000 square feet, adding a 5,000- to 7,000-capacity theatre, 300 more seats and converting 26 of 58 luxury suites to loge boxes, terrace tables and party suites.