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May 12, 2023
The city of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools have received two proposals from private entities to partner on the proposed redevelopment and replacement of the 75-year-old Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center. They are the One Roof Partnership and the Memorial Stadium Entertainment District Team.
The One Roof Partnership is an umbrella entity with links to the Seattle Kraken, Climate Pledge Arena, their philanthropic arm (the One Roof Foundation) and developer Oak View Group. Oak View Group has a long history of developing stadiums and sports facilities and is also the corporate team behind the Seattle Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena, which is located a short distance from Memorial Stadium.
The Memorial Stadium Entertainment District Team is headed by JLL and Poag Development Group, which formed a partnership in 2022, and also includes operator/partner ASM Global, the world's largest operator of sports, entertainment, and convention venues, and DLR Group.
The city and SPS (which owns Memorial Stadium and currently uses it for graduation ceremonies and high school athletics) put out an RFP for the project in March. The deadline to submit proposals was May 4. The RFP called for a private partner that would join in the development of “a new state-of-the art multi-purpose sports, educational, and entertainment stadium” centered around students and better integrated within the cultural life of Seattle Center. The replacement stadium is required to have at least 8,000 seats. The replacement project will also complete August Wilson Way with an east-west pedestrian and bike connection across the Seattle Center campus and create new public space linking the International Fountain with the new stadium.
Each proposal puts forward a unique and quite different concept for a new Memorial Stadium. Early conceptual renderings from the One Roof Partnership show a state-of-the-art stadium that maintains a somewhat traditional look and feel in keeping with the original architecture of the facility. The stadium's existing World War II Memorial Wall (from which it gets its name) would be preserved and proudly highlighted at the east side of the new complex.
On the other hand, the Entertainment District Team's proposal calls for a more futuristic looking stadium with a distinctive green/teal facade and a new enclosed viewing structure facing across from a large semi-covered grandstand. It is not clear at this point what that team plans to do with the war memorial.
In a joint statement, the city and SPS said the two proposals will now be evaluated – and partner interviews conducted – 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 is tentatively planned for late May, with the final agreement pending Seattle City Council and SPS Board action.
If/once a deal is struck SPS and the city, with support from the Seattle Center Foundation, would then expand community outreach with an inclusive process for input from students, families, and the greater community about the new stadium's programming and design. Full proposals would also be made available to the public following the announcement of a selected partner.
The replacement project is funded in part via public funds. These include $66.5 million of voter-approved SPS capital levy funds, $4 million included in Gov. Jay Inslee's proposed capital budget (subject to State Legislature approval), and an anticipated $40 million from the City of Seattle, $21 million of which has been contributed to date.
The selected private partner would provide the additional capital needed for the project. How much that might be has not been disclosed. SPS would maintain ownership of Memorial Stadium.
Discussions to replace the stadium, which the city says is worn and outdated, go back to 2017.
Emma Hinchliffe can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.