Can Seattle become a hockey town? If the highest level of professional hockey calls Seattle home, what would that mean to the Seattle residents who do not care about the sport? Listen to today’s episode of Seattle Growth Podcast to find out.

Seattle Growth Podcast is an exploration of what the city’s rapid growth and transformation mean to residents, businesses, and city leaders. As a hallmark of that growth, multiple groups are vying to invest roughly half a billion dollars into our community to build a world class sports and entertainment arena. Oak View Group is hoping to renovate Seattle Center’s Key Arena. Chris Hansen and his investment team is hoping to build a private arena in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood. City council will soon be deciding which proposal if any to proceed with.

Much of the attention for this arena has been on bringing back the Supersonics, a professional basketball franchise the city lost in 2008. In fact, Seattle Growth Podcast devoted an entire season to examining what professional basketball would mean to our growing city.

But often overlooked in this discussion is the fact that the National Hockey League (NHL) may grant a franchise to Seattle if a modern arena is developed in the city.

Today’s episode brings you several perspectives on the existing hockey community in Seattle and what hockey could mean to all residents, sports fans and non-sports fans alike.

Executive Director of the Seattle Sports Commission Ralph Morton describes what Seattle’s economic development means for a possible hockey franchise and what a hockey franchise can mean for Seattle’s further economic development. He is joined in the interview by Kevin Ticen, director of marketing and communications. 

John Barr, a hockey enthusiast behind the NHL to Seattle fan movement, shares insight into the existing hockey community clamoring for the NHL.

Vanessa Kirk-Briley, from Ronald McDonald House Charities explains how professional hockey can have a significant impact on Seattle residents in need.  

Todd Humphrey, a former professional hockey player who served on the Mayor’s Advisory panel that weighed two proposals for a Key Arena remodel, weighs in on the ongoing arena debate.  

How will growth and the potential for a new sports and entertainment arena affect the city’s budget? Find out in today’s episode, featuring City Budget Office director Ben Noble and University of Washington professor Justin Marlowe.

Director Ben Noble (beginning 2:30) gives insight into how growth affects the resources available to the city and how these resources get deployed. He explains whether growth will mean better infrastructure and services for you. He describes the costs of accommodating more people and businesses.

Professor Justin Marlowe (beginning 27:00) has been making headlines for his study on the effect of the city’s arena choice on the budget. He shares why he completed the study, how he was compensated for it, what he found, and how he found it. Marlowe research suggests a Sodo arena could generate $67 million more revenue for the city’s general fund than the proposal to renovate Key Arena. Marlowe explains what this would mean for the budget.


Former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn shares gives rare insight into Seattle’s past, present, and future in this first of three new Seattle Growth Podcast episodes. The mayor of Seattle from 2010 until the end of 2013 covers the subjects of each of the last two seasons of Seattle Growth Podcast. Season 1 examined how Seattle’s rapid growth is affecting residents, businesses, and city leaders. Season 2 examined how efforts to build a roughly half billion dollar arena in the city would affect sports fans and non-sports fans throughout Seattle.

The episode also features insight into why Seattle is growing from Taylor Graham (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris DeVore (TechStars and Founders Co-op), Maggie Walker (Founding partner of Seattle Venture Partners), and Brian Bonlender (Washington State Department of Commerce).


McGinn currently has a podcast You, Me, Us, Now available on iTunes and is running in the election to be the next mayor of Seattle.


In this episode, McGinn describes what he did as Mayor to set the city up for its recent growth (5:15). McGinn notes how public demand for dense, walkable, urban centers was increasing nationally. “What we were doing was focusing on place and the attractiveness of the place.” McGinn recalls companies who “needed to locate in urban areas to attract the employees they wanted.”


McGinn discusses the challenges created by Seattle’s growth (11:00) “The single biggest challenge is housing. And I think that what we did not do over the last few years was give that the same focus that we were giving to trying to climb out of the recession.”


McGinn opens up about what he would have done differently as mayor given the subsequent growth of our city (13:15) and what change he would like to implement as the next mayor of Seattle (14:35).


McGinn shares how growth has affected him personally (18:00).


The conversation turns to the arena discussion (19:25). “I think we should just push SoDo arena through to its conclusion. The street vacation should be voted on because it was part of the original deal.”  McGinn also comments on the Key Arena renovation proposal (20:45). “The deeper you look at the proposal from Oak View Group, they’re asking for a fair bit of city revenue…When you start doing all the math of the money that they are capturing, my thought is, ‘maybe we should just dedicate those revenues to a modest remodel of Key Arena.’”

McGinn shares how he thought about Key Arena at the time of negotiating the memorandum of understanding with Chris Hansen’s SoDo arena group (21:50).  What happens if the City Council proceeds with the OVG proposal and McGinn is elected mayor? McGinn addresses this question and more (23:50).


Stay tuned next week for insight into Seattle’s budget. Director of the City Budget Office Ben Noble describes how growth affects the revenues and expenses. UW professor Justin Marlowe shares the details of his study examining the effect of the two arena proposals (Sodo arena and Oak View Group) on the city’s budget.

This special episode of Seattle Growth Podcast gives you an inside look at a burgeoning industry with potential to further drive growth in this city. Jeff Shulman had an opportunity to visit the Geekwire Sports Tech Summit and interview individuals uniquely involved in the the sports tech.

In this episode:

Taylor Soper, the sports tech reporter for Geekwire, (beginning around 4:27) describes how Vicis, Amazon, and Microsoft are driving sports tech in the region and what can be expected in the future.

Former professional hockey player and co-founder of League, Todd Humphrey, (beginning around 11:00) explains how professional hockey has prepared him for entrepreneurship. He offers an idea of what Seattle can expect from local sports tech companies in the future.

Akvelon employee, Jeremiah Mothersell, (18:39) shares why he moved here from Arizona without a job in hand, and what it is like to work at a sports tech company in Seattle.

Professional hot air balloon competitor and pilot at Seattle Ballooning, Eliav Cohen, (23:58) describes how a local tech company is incidentally revolutionizing the world-wide sport of hot air ballooning.

The episode gives you a better understanding of what you can expect from Seattle’s sports tech scene and how it may further drive the growth of the city.

Today’s special episode of Seattle Growth Podcast focuses on the future of Key Arena. This issue has become more relevant as multiple groups are hoping to bring professional basketball and hockey back to Seattle. Key Arena played home to the basketball franchise Seattle Supersonics until 2008, when the team moved to Oklahoma City. In its current state, the arena does not meet the expectations of the NBA or the NHL.

There are three proposals to develop an NBA-ready arena that are being considered by City Council. Two groups have proposed to renovate Key Arena, while one group, led by Chris Hansen, is proposing to develop a sports and entertainment complex in the SODO neighborhood.

The issue is now two-fold: Which proposal will the city support for the purpose of attracting professional basketball and hockey teams?  And secondly, if Key Arena is not chosen for that purpose, what will the city do with that public asset?

In this episode, City Councilmember Rob Johnson describes the process by which the proposals will be evaluated and offers insight into the pros and cons of each.

Developer Sam Farrazaino offers an alternative vision for repurposing Key Arena should a development in SODO becomes the home of professional arena sports.

This episode gives you a better understanding of how public resources may be deployed in bringing the NBA and NHL to Seattle and in improving Seattle Center.


Episode Recap

Rob Johnson describes what Seattle Center means to the city as whole (4:45). He describes what he would like Key Arena to mean to Seattle Center and the region (5:49) and what he is looking for in the proposals (7:48). He notes his concern is “to make sure that we are not privatizing the profit and publicizing the risk.”

He describes the pros and cons of the Oak View Group proposal (9:44). He views the community partnerships and community outreach as positives. Johnson noted, “The financial elements are the pieces that are the hardest to unravel because they both require some level of public subsidies.”

One concern Johnson noted with the Oak View Group proposal is how it will affect the citizens of Seattle. “They ask for a forgiveness on the sales taxes associated with construction, which will likely save them several hundreds of millions of dollars…They may not require a direct public subsidy. By not paying that sales tax, it does have a downstream impact on the kinds of services that we can provide as a city and county.”

Johnson briefly described the memorandum of understanding the city has signed with the SoDo arena group (13:12) and then discussed the pros and cons of the Seattle Partners proposal to renovate Key Arena (14:35). “From an urban design perspective, it is a slightly better proposal the way it meets the street.” Johnson noted the transportation investment strategies as another benefit. However, the financial component is something he believes needs to be vetted properly. “The biggest piece of their financial assumptions are again that access to city bonding authority. There are some other issues that I think we need to have worked out too.”

Johnson also provides an explanation of the process by which the arena will be chosen (16:29).

As far as the timeline for an arena to be built? “Even if we were to sign on the dotted line with a Key Arena proposal before the end of the year, we are still several years away from actually being ready for the building to start construction. Whereas if were to sign on the dotted line with SoDo before the end of the year, they could start construction immediately after we sign on the dotted line.”

If the SODO proposal is approved, it appears from episode 8 of Seattle Growth Podcast that the mayor’s office believes the city can accommodate only one sports and entertainment complex. This means the city might need to find another use for its public asset. To stimulate creative thinking about alternative futures for Seattle’ Center’s Key Arena, I reached out to a Seattle Growth Podcast guest from Season 1, artist-turned-developer Sam Farrazaino.

Sam Farrazaino envisions an “arts enclave in the spirit of a Pike Place Market. Local people who are creating stuff on site.” Keeping the existing structure intact, he would “break the central part of the arena down into four different performance venues.” Using the service stations and suites, he would create spaces for photographers, painters, sculptors, and other artists. This would allow visitors to “experience the arts in the place they are made.” He argues, “we need more space for local arts to thrive.”  

Farrazaino shares what inspired the idea (32:15). He provides a rough estimate of what it would cost (37:35) and describes how the project could earn back the investment (38:10) with more specifics on how to possibly make the numbers work at 48:42.   

What could does he believe this mean to Seattle Center (42:58) and to the city (52:05)? Listen to find out.

In the final episode of the season, former Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark gives guidance on how to effectively engage city government on Sonic Boom Day, April 17th. She shares the best way to communicate your opinions along with some do’s and don’ts. Her guidance helps anyone with a passion about a city issue get their point across.

Also in this episode, host Jeff Shulman reveals that he is not actually a Sonics fan. However, he discusses how he has been moved by people who have made this city great. People from diverse races, genders, educations, and political affiliations who have been brought together and inspired by the world class athletes wearing Sonics uniforms.

Sharing what the Sonics have historically meant to the city of Seattle, the episode features quotes from Pete Nordstrom, Slick Watts, Lenny Wilkens, Detlef Schrempf, Professor Jen Hoffman, Jack and Steve Hussey,  Debi Frausto, Jeff Brown, Lauren Henry and Nicole Morrison.


In the nearly 10 years since the NBA franchise Seattle Supersonics left for Oklahoma City, several people have been working tirelessly to bring the Sonics back to Seattle. This episode gives you a window into the hearts and minds of two people working for several years to return Seattle to the league of cities playing host to professional basketball. In this episode you will hear from:

1. Chris Hansen; the leader of a group of investors attempting to bring an NBA franchise to an arena in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood. He discusses his motivations for continued efforts to bring Seattle an NBA franchise. He also shares rare insights into where his group is in the process.

2. Jeff Brown; a Sonics fan and leader of the Bring Back our Sonics movement. He shares why he continues to rally fans years after the NBA left the Emerald City.

What you will learn in this episode:

  1. What Hansen’s group needs from the city to break ground on an arena.
  2. What Chris Hansen learned from 2012 efforts to purchase and relocate Sacramento Kings.
  3. Whether a hockey-first approach for a SoDo arena can work.
  4. Chris Hansen’s thoughts on relocation of an existing franchise versus NBA league expansion.

Sonic Boom Day is coming April 17th. Residents from across Seattle will be sharing their voice with Seattle City Council on where they would like an arena to be developed. As City Council is in the process of determining where to pave the way for a return of the NBA, developing an informed opinion can help you achieve the outcome that is in your best interest.

This episode of Seattle Growth Podcast gives you unique insight into what the NBA can mean to the residents of Seattle and what the proposal for a SoDo arena would mean to you and life in this city.

Sonic Boom Day is coming April 17th! People from around the city will be sharing their voice with City Council on the same day so that wishes of Seattle residents can be heard loud and clear. Prepare with today’s episode, which focuses on how the arena location decision would affect your wallet through its effect on rents, home values, and further development.

In this episode:

Craig Kinzer, Founder and CEO of Kinzer Partners, explains the real estate development that should occur around a new arena.

Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist at Windermere Real Estate describes current trends in Seattle Real Estate and how they would be affected by a return of the Sonics and the arena location they call home.

Realtors Tyler Davis Jones and Phil Greely discuss what a return of the Sonics would mean to their lives and their business.

In this episode, you will learn:

  1. Is it a good time to buy or sell a home in Seattle?
  2. How would the arena location affect rents and home values in the surrounding areas?
  3. How would a return of the Sonics affect home values citywide?
  4. How would the arena’s location affect the development around it?

There are potentially three private groups vying to invest roughly half a billion dollars into a sports and entertainment complex in Seattle. The city is weighing a proposal for a SoDo arena and inviting proposals for a renovation of Seattle Center’s Key Arena. Decisions will soon be made and this episode helps you become further informed of the issues.


In this episode:


Get the scoop on how the city is approaching a potential Key Arena location from Brian Surratt, director of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development.


Get an inside look at Oak View Groups intentions to submit a proposal from Lance Lopes, director of special projects at Oak View Group.

Hear the challenges and opportunities the surrounding neighborhood sees from Debi Frausto (with Robert Cardona) who serves on the KeyArena Subcommittee Chair for the Seattle Uptown Alliance and is also on the Mayor’s Key Arena Advisory Panel.

This episode will give you a better understanding of how a Key Arena renovation could impact you and life in this city.

For more information on the Uptown Alliance, visit their website or their Facebook page. The Uptown Alliance conducted a survey on a Key Arena renovation. You can see the results here.

This episode gives you a behind the scenes look at the life and impact off the court of the first coach to deliver Seattle a professional sports championship. You will hear from Hall of Fame Sonics player and coach Lenny Wilkens about his upbringing and his motivation to help his community through the Lenny Wilkens Foundation for Children.

You will also hear from Dr. Ben Danielson of the Odessa Brown Clinic as he shares personal stories of how Lenny Wilkens has affected his life and the lives of the children he serves.

The episode continues our exploration of what a return of the Sonics could mean to Seattle. But much more than that, it provides a story of the difference one person can make in the lives around them. A story that will hopefully inspire others in our community.

In this episode, host Jeff Shulman calls upon listeners to “Live Like Lenny.” If you have time to do something good for the community, snap a picture and share on social media using #LiveLikeLenny.

Whether it is bringing food to a food bank, bringing clothes, blankets or supplies to a shelter, cleaning trash from a public space, or volunteering with a religious or secular organization, listeners are asked to show the ripple effect our positive role models can have on our community.