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Seattle fails to get funding for KeyArena renovations

By Jenni Carlson Modified: April 9, 2008 at 12:16 am •  Published: April 9, 2008
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Efforts in Seattle to secure funding for KeyArena renovations have failed.

Mayor Greg Nickels announced Tuesday that that city will be unable to close a deal to evenly split those renovation costs with a local investment group.

That high-powered and well-funded group had pledged $150 million toward the arena upgrades. Because the KeyArena is city-owned, though, the private investors set an April 10 deadline to secure an equal amount of public funding.

Now with the public funding unavailable, it appears the deal will fall apart.

"This is truly a missed opportunity for the city, the region, the state and the NBA,” Nickels said in a statement.

Last month, a local investment group that includes Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Costco CEO Jim Sinegal announced a plan in which it would pay for upgrades to KeyArena that directly benefit a basketball team. The city, in turn, would secure public funds to pay for renovations to public area and building systems in the arena.

The inability of the city to match the private funding leaves Seattle's NBA future in further jeopardy.

The NBA's Board of Governors will meet next week and vote on the Sonics' proposal to move the team to Oklahoma City. Even though a federal court case is still pending, Seattle faces an uphill battle with no funding plan in place to renovate KeyArena.

"But this is not the end of it,” Nickels said in his statement. "Seattle has been home to the NBA for more than 40 years, and I'm committed to seeing that this long tradition continues.”