Last week, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray resigned after a fifth accuser, a cousin, said Murray molested him when the cousin was a teen. Murray maintains he has never abused anyone but announced he was stepping down from office Tuesday (Sept. 12).
“While the allegations against me are not true, it is important that my personal issues do not affect the ability of our city government to conduct the public’s business,” the mayor said. It was a stunning end to a months-long drama that has seen five men step forward to accuse Murray of sexually abusing them years ago, when they were teenagers.
What does this mean for Tim Leiweke and Oak View Group’s plan to renovate and operate KeyArena, a project Murray’s office supported and helped negotiate a $600 million memorandum of understanding that was presented to the City Council the day after the mayor’s resignation? In April, Leiweke spoke to Amplify about his bid to take over management of the facility, with the help of Pearl Jam, from longtime operator AEG. We reached out to Leiweke again, who said the scandal was “unfortunate for Seattle” but added that he “expects the agreement to be fully approved” and signed “by the new Mayor by early December.” You can read his full statement below.
So, we have been at this in Seattle for a year. We won the bid about four months ago and immediately began to negotiate the MOU with the City and Council staff and their consultants. We actually haven’t seen or talked to the Mayor since we won the bid as staff and experts took this over. We finished and signed the MOU on Monday (Sept 11) and sent it to the Council for final approval.
The MOU is now in their hands and we expect about two months of additional public hearings and meetings with the Council to provide info and support for the MOU. We expect to be fully approved and have a signed agreement by the new Mayor by early December.
The change in leadership is unfortunate for Seattle but we have a great relationship with the President of the Council and the Council members. We met with most of them one on one these last few days and indicated our continued enthusiasm for Seattle. Although unfortunate for those directly impacted by this issue, it has no effect on us or the process for the new Arena at Seattle Center. And the council is even more committed to prove that this Seattle process can work and they can develop these win-win partnerships with the business community. And our MOU has been widely praised by all for its commitment to protecting the taxpayers from any risk, by guaranteeing the City makes as much in the new partnership as they currently make today with KeyArena and that this profit margin will grow. And that we assume all the risk and pay all the taxes associated with the development of the new Arena.
We expect to be on schedule to open in October of 2020. And we remain committed and have the partners that are ready to acquire an NHL and or an NBA team should one be available.
Although a difficult week in Seattle, our project actually had a very good week and has enormous momentum. As to SoDo Arena, their MOU is locked into a guarantee that they will have acquired an NBA team by this December. As it is safe to say that is not going to happen, we are not focused on chasing or even following a project that is unable to meet or fulfill its financial and partner commitments as required by the MOU.
We move on!