An Interview With Field of Schemes Author Neil deMause Regarding The SODO Arena; Part 2

This is the second part of my interview with Field of Schemes author Neil deMause. I recommend checking out the first part of the interview over here.
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NVR: How do you think the City should handle the situation with Key Arena? After all Hansen’s $2-$7 million towards the Key isn’t going to be enough if the Storm move to the new SODO Arena.

NDM: Yeah, Key Arena is pretty much screwed: I can’t think of a single example of a city Seattle’s size maintaining two viable full-sized arenas. (Whether the Storm stay put or not is irrelevant — it’s about whether there’s enough concert business to support two arenas.) Look at the Twin Cities area, where the Met Center was torn down to reduce the arena glut after the Target Center opened, then the Xcel Center was built to lure the Wild, then the Target Center demanded more subsidies to be “competitive,” etc.

I guess my main concern is that Seattle not throw a whole lot of good money after bad. Once you acknowledge that Key Arena’s business model has just evaporated, there are only a few options: renovate it to be a smaller arena that can lure different kinds of shows (and which, hopefully, will cost less to run), tear it down, let it sit mostly empty because it’s a cool building. I haven’t the slightest idea which is the most viable option, but it’s important to forget everything that went before — once you build an arena in SODO, the old concert market isn’t coming back.

 NVR: Well, there really hasn’t been much at the Key since the Sonics left. It catches the occasional concert every now and then, but Everett/Kent/Tacoma are pretty much blowing it out of the water. Eventually I’m going to get a photo montage of the loading bay areas of each arena; it’s a shocking difference. The main money producers for the Key right now are the Storm, Redhawks, and the Rollargirls; mainly because these events go on year round. Anyways onto the next question;

NDM: If that’s true, then the SODO arena is likely in deep trouble, because there’s no way it’s going to turn a profit just on an NBA team. Not that that would be Seattle’s problem — the way the lease is written, in fact, the worse the arena does, the more money Hansen puts up (in rent).

Part three is coming up soon; stay tuned.

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