Key panel unanimously OKs arena renovation for Seattle NHL team

KeyArena renovation

SEATTLE - The effort to renovate Seattle's KeyArena for a new National Hockey League team moved ahead Friday as a seven-member City Council committee unanimously approved the project and agreements needed to make it happen.

The Select Committee on Civic Arenas' vote came after no appeals were filed against the project's final environmental impact statement before Thursday's 5 p.m. deadline.

The NHL arena project and the agreements now need to be approved by the full Seattle City Council at a meeting scheduled for Sept. 24. But there appeared to be little doubt that the project will get the green light, since seven of the council's nine members have already officially shown their support with Friday's committee vote.

Still, members of the public opposed to the current plan are bound to make themselves heard at the upcoming meeting. They have concerns about traffic and congestion in the area around the Seattle Center if the plan goes through.

If the full council does give its blessing to the project, the focus will turn to an Oct. 2 meeting of the NHL's executive committee, in which local organizers will make their pitch for a new expansion team.

NHL Seattle President and CEO Tod Leiweke has called that presentation the most important one of his entire career.

If the NHL executive committee gives a thumbs-up, a full NHL board of governors vote on approving a Seattle franchise for a $650 million fee would likely take place in December. If everything goes smoothly, a team could be in place in time for the NHL season that begins in October 2020.

Plans outlined in the final environmental impact statement call for renovating KeyArena into a world-class sports and music facility for the next 50 years.

Under the plan, city taxpayers would not foot the bill for reconstruction, including any potential cost overruns.

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