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Seattle planning since fall for NBA return to KeyArena

Seattle has been planning for months to upgrade KeyArena for the return of NBA basketball. (KIRO Radio/Tim Haeck)

The city of Seattle has been planning for months to upgrade KeyArena for the return of NBA basketball.

City Councilmember Tim Burgess said investor Chris Hansen has pledged to spend $12-$15 million on some specific improvements with very little city investment.

“Mr. Hansen has talked about the lower bowl being enhanced, talked about the electronic backbone, if you will, all of the necessary electronics for broadcast purposes has to be redone; there’s a lot of work.”

Burgess talked to reporters Monday outside KeyArena, the World’s Fair-era building which was home to the Seattle SuperSonics between 1967 and 2008, except for a few years when games were played at the Kingdome or Tacoma Dome.

Burgess said the city will not do anything until the Sacramento Kings are formally awarded to the Seattle investors. If that happens, he vows that KeyArena will be ready for the first game this fall.

“We don’t have very long, there’s a lot of work to do here, but the city’s engaged, now, with Mr. Hansen on that and we’ll make progress over the next several months,” said Burgess.

A lawsuit is challenging the validity of the environmental review of the SoDo site that Hansen prefers for a new arena.

“We built in protections so that the EIS is done properly, we put off any final decision (on siting the arena) until after the EIS is completed and there’s really no dispute about the facts there,” said Burgess. “All the parties to that lawsuit have agreed to summary judgment and the court will decide whether or not we’re following the right process.”

If Seattle gets another NBA team, Burgess said it could play as many as three seasons at KeyArena while the new arena is built.

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