SEATTLE — The developers behind Seattle's Climate Pledge Arena have made a formal bid to build a new Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center.
The Oak View Group (OVG) has submitted a proposal to build a new stadium on the site under what it is calling the "One Roof Partnership." The name borrows from the Seattle Kraken’s community foundation and is a reference to the proposed partnership with Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and the city of Seattle.
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An early design shows that OVG is proposing a small stadium that preserves the existing World War II Memorial Wall on the east side of the existing complex.
“It's been forgotten. In this plan, it will not only not be forgotten, but it will also be honored and featured, as will many other things,” said Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke in advance of his group submitting a formal bid to the city and school district.
Bids were due by 4 p.m. Thursday, after the two parties requested proposals back in March of this year. At least one other bid was received as of 5 p.m., but it's unclear at this time who it's from.
Memorial Stadium opened in 1947 and hosted high school football and soccer before the World’s Fair in 1962. In has hosted multiple civic events, graduations, and concerts since but has fallen behind on maintenance in recent years. The NWSL’s Seattle Reign moved to Tacoma after complaining about the deterioration of the facility, before moving back to Lumen Field as the OL Reign last season.
SPS Chief Operations Officer Fred Podesta told KOMO News last March that the building had reached the end of its useful life, hence the joint request with the city.
An SPS Levy, approved by voters, allocated $66.5 million for the project, with an additional $25 million coming from the city and state. Private investors, interested in operating the building, were asked to submit bids with a new vision for the building.
Leiweke’s brother, Tim is the founder, and CEO of OVG, and has been serving as the local point person on the proposal. Tod would not say how much OVG would contribute if selected as the winning bidder, but added:
I don't want to get in front of the (selection) committee, but I'm telling you, this will be an expression of our commitment to this community. If it happens, it will be the biggest commitment we've made to this community.
One Roof Foundation's executive director has also been intimately involved in the planning of the bid, and noted “It really represents our organizational commitment to bringing people together under that roof to taking care of each other to helping each other and knowing that we really have to lean into these big issues together.” She added, "Specifically having alignment with our impact pillar of increasing access to sport and opportunity for youth and in particular, underrepresented youth."
The OVG design is similar to another from Kansas City-based Generator Studios, which is behind the architectural concept for a new soccer-specific stadium in that city and helped plan the Kraken’s Northgate Kraken Community Iceplex and Sounders FC’s new team headquarters and training facility at the Renton Long acres site.
It is not immediately clear who else may have submitted a bid by the deadline, which was already extended two days by the city. 113 different people or organizations signed up to tour the site during an open house last month, including ASM Global which is a partner of Entertainment and Arena conglomerate AEG.
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An ASM Global representative, listed in public documents as a contact, has declined any sort of statement on the company’s interest.
The formal Request for Proposals (RFP) asked for a minimum configuration of at least 8,000 fans, and the ability to house a stage and other staging equipment for the campus. The school district also said the space could likely fit a 20,000-seat project, depending on the design and would be best with a connection to the International Fountain and August Wilson Way on the west side.
Multiple civic leaders have tried for years to broker a solution for the stadium. In 2017, then Mayor Tim Burgess signed an agreement to redevelop the stadium. In 2021, then Mayor Jenny Durkan signed a "partnership" to build a new stadium, and school on the site as part of a possible land swap involving the Battery Street Tunnel.
Seattle public records indicate the city hired Populous back in late 2021 for a “Memorial Stadium Concept Study” of the stadium site and surface parking lot on 5th Avenue. The city also made it clear that they would like the building done in time for the 2026 World Cup in Seattle, and to comply with WIAA standards.
Leiweke said their proposal would meet the criteria, and timeline. The city and district are expected to select a winner by the week of May 22, and negotiate financing after that.
SPS and the city of Seattle issued a joint statement about the deadline, which reads in part:
“(We) are pleased to have received proposals for replacing Memorial Stadium with an innovative new, multi-purpose sports, educational and entertainment venue to better serve students from all backgrounds and the broader community, and which is better integrated with the Seattle Center campus.
The proposals will be evaluated – and partner interviews conducted – as part of a deliberative review process over the coming weeks by a panel of staff and community representatives, with an eye for creative designs which meet the project vision, objectives, program requirements, and shared values as outlined in the RPF.
A partner decision – to be announced by Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and SPS Superintendent Brent Jones – is tentatively planned for late May, with the final agreement pending Seattle City Council and SPS Board action.
Following the selection of a private partner, SPS and the City with support from the Seattle Center Foundation will expand community outreach with an inclusive process for input from students, families, and the greater community about the new stadium’s programming and design guided by a commitment to racial equity to ensure inclusive engagement.”