KeyArena advisory committee member calls process a model for other cities

Evan Clifthorne, executive director of the Project Belltown community group, was on a 13-member KeyArena advisory committee that met multiple times with the City of Seattle and the Oak View Group to discuss the planned arena upgrade. “It really was a novel concept,” he said.

UPDATE:

Tuesday’s news conference was canceled after new sexual-abuse allegations against Mayor Ed Murray. More updates to come.


Evan Clifthorne had a firsthand look at the community discussion shaping a new deal on a $600 million renovation of KeyArena.

As executive director of the Project Belltown community group, Clifthorne was on a 13-member KeyArena advisory committee that met multiple times with the City of Seattle and Los Angeles-based Oak View Group (OVG) to discuss the planned arena upgrade. Mayor Ed Murray and OVG were scheduled to announce a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the proposed renovation they hope the Seattle City Council signs off on by Dec. 31.

“One of the things unique about this process was the way in which they engaged the entire community in a way we’ve never seen happen before for a sports project,” Clifthorne said. “I think that whatever winds up happening with the project, the process is a model other cities around the country should be looking at.”

More Seattle arena news

OVG co-founder and CEO Tim Leiweke on Monday credited the advisory meetings with prodding his group’s decision to commit $40 million to a transportation fund to mitigate traffic and parking in neighborhoods around KeyArena. Clifthorne’s neighborhood counterparts from the Uptown Alliance and South Lake Union Community Council were also on the advisory committee.

“It really was a novel concept,” Clifthorne said. “Getting to know what the people who live and work in those neighborhoods every day really think about what’s going to happen. And giving them a say in it.”

That stands in contrast to a 2012 MOU negotiated largely behind the scenes between entrepreneur Chris Hansen and then-Mayor Mike McGinn on a proposed arena for the city’s Sodo District. When that draft MOU first appeared, it encountered immediate opposition from local stakeholders — the Port of Seattle, Mariners and local Maritime unions among the most notorious.

Hansen last week surprised many with an offer to do his own KeyArena renovation into a downsized, split-venue facility for concerts and music at a cost between $90 million to…

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