Two years after Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke said, “we can do this,” he joined Seattle’s Mayor, Washington’s Governor and members of NHL’s Seattle’s management in a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new Seattle Center arena on Wednesday.
KeyArena’s future as a home for an NHL or NBA team was looking dim when investor Chris Hanson was making a pitch to relocate an NBA team and play in a brand new arena in Seattle’s SODO district.
But Leiweke was able to make a pitch to the City of Seattle that was hard to refuse. His company would rebuild the arena to meet NHL and NBA specifications and do it with private financing — no public bonding would be necessary.
This idea was originally proposed under the administration of then Mayor Ed Murray. But current Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and the city council approved a deal earlier this year, but the construction could not begin until there was a team.
Tim Leiweke’s brother, Tod Leiweke, former Seattle Seahawks CEO and the number two man behind NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was brought on as CEO of NHL Seattle.
On Tuesday, the day before the groundbreaking, Tod along with an ownership group lead by billionaire investor David Bonderman and mega-movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer sealed the arena reconstruction by getting approval from NHL owners for an expansion team that will take to the ice for the 2021-22 season.
That approval made the groundbreaking possible.
“I’ve been doing this 40 years; it’s the 18th or 19th project I’ve done — it’s the hardest one I’ve ever done,” said Tim Leiweke, who along with his brother made a point to say Seattle is getting a brand new arena.
“We want to make sure is we don’t call it a renovation, because this isn’t a renovation, it’s a brand new arena under a historic roof,” said Tod Leiweke.
Just after the approval for a team, Bruckheimer said he’s looking forward to making the new arena a premier concert venue.
“A lot of bands fly over Seattle, unfortunately, because we don’t have a venue where the sound is appropriate for what they want, we are going to try and do it right,” he said.
Lingering in the future is a return of the NBA.
“One miracle at a time,” Bonderman said following the awarding of a team at the NHL meetings in Sea Island, Georgia on Tuesday. The NHL Seattle ownership group is paying a record $650 million dollar expansion fee to the NHL.
“I never talk about personal finances, but there are few bits of change that aren’t around anymore,” Bonderman said.
What is undecided is a team name and a temporary name for the new arena until the naming rights are sold. Two versions’ are being used: The New Arena at Seattle Center and Seattle Center Arena.
Originally published at http://komonews.com/news/local/ground-breaking-ceremony-marks-next-step-for-seattle-nhl-team