SEATTLE (CelebrityAccess) A recent report on the advancements of Oak View Group on the refurbishment of Seattle’s aging KeyArena includes a potential partnership with Amazon and apparently at least six companies competing for arena naming rights.
Sonics Rising, a subsidiary of SB Nation that focuses on Seattle Supersonics news and updates, recently delved into OVG’s advancements at rebuilding the NBA team’s former home and its attempts to draw a NHL team.
OVG has built a Seattle office, under the auspices of former general counsel for the Seahawks Lance Lopes, which has already set up relationships with WNBA’s Seattle Storm and Seattle University Redhawks’ basketball program to move their outfits to the rebuilt KeyArena when it reopens, Sonics Rising noted. Meanwhile, OVG has asked Seattle’s best-known grunge band, Pearl Jam, to be a consultant for arena acoustics and has approached the band to play a residency at KeyArena, the webzine added.
OVG also brought on private equity investment firm TPG Capital founder David Bonderman to recruit an NHL team. To that effect, Bonderman, along with OVG chief Tim Leiweke and film/television producer Jerry Bruckheimer spearheaded a ticket drive to recruit a hockey club. The previous record for a similar ticket drive was 5,000 ducats sold in 48 hours. This one sold 10,000 tickets in 12 minutes.
“Seattle has spoken,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “They are ready for the National Hockey League and that they are counting on us to get the National Hockey League here.”
“Certainly, we expect to have a number of Seattle-based partners in the ownership group when we finish reconstituting it, or constituting it,” Bonderman told Sonics Rising prior to the ticket launch. “Not naming any names, but at the end of the day, you’ll see some folks who are long-time Seattleites in the deal with us.”
Bondeman is a minority owner of the Boston Celtics, Sonics Rising noted.
“I’ll add that all three of us, if we are fortunate enough to get an NHL team and the arena, [it] will be run by Seattle, for Seattle, and about Seattle,” Leiweke told the media outlet. “It’s not gonna be run from L.A. or wherever we all happen to be. This is gonna be a management team that will be based here, will live here, and their families will be here. And these will be people that will be well-respected and well-known to this community.”
OVG Seattle recently hired industry vet Steve Mattson to be arena director of operations. Mattson spent 16 years as GM of the Target Center, home of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He moved to Seattle, where his wife works, in 2017. The arena has 58 suites available but has 600 requests for them, according to Leiweke, as well as 2,000 requests for club seats. There is also talk of incorporating Amazon Go – the cashless convenience store experience – into the facility.
Amazon is Seattle’s largest private employer with 50,000 employees downtown.
“My guess is they’ll be very aggressive in trying to help us accomplish being one of the top ten arenas in the world for music because it’s in their best interest, and we in turn are over the moon about being a neighbor to Amazon,” Leiweke told Sonics Rising.
He also told the Business Journal that six major companies have asked about naming rights but declined to name specific companies (Amzon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Expedia and Boeing all have local ties).
“This is the 19th arena-stadium I’ve worked on for naming rights in my 40-year career, and this is the first time in my career that I am being chased,” he said.