Team behind Seattle Kraken, Climate Pledge Arena bids for Memorial Stadium revamp
The deadline for proposals to demolish, rebuild and operate Seattle’s Memorial Stadium arrived Thursday, and the corporate team behind the Seattle Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena has submitted one of two bids.
The city, which joined Seattle Public Schools in March to request proposals from potential partners to revamp the aging, SPS-owned venue at the city’s Seattle Center campus, didn’t release much information about the results of the request, except that there were two proposals.
But the Kraken’s chief executive officer, Tod Leiweke, said Thursday that he and others involved with the National Hockey League club and the Seattle Center arena, where the club plays, are making a pitch.
“This is such an important thing for the campus,” Leiweke said, referring to Seattle Center, which includes the Space Needle, the International Fountain, the Seattle Children’s Museum and other attractions, in addition to Climate Pledge Arena and Memorial Stadium. “A very, very important project not just for the campus but really for our community.”
In March, a Seattle Center official said multiple parties had at points expressed interest in partnering on the stadium, including the global sports and entertainment company AEG Worldwide. AEG representatives didn’t immediately grant an interview request Thursday.
The city and SPS intend to release proposer names and proposal executive summaries by the end of next week but won’t release full proposals until a partner has been selected, they said.
Seattle leaders have said a redevelopment project could transform Memorial Stadium from a dilapidated concrete hulk into an airy new space for concerts, cultural events, 2026 World Cup training and perhaps even professional soccer or rugby, in addition to high school sports and graduation ceremonies.
Today, student teams are the main users of the stadium.
The March request for proposals sought an experienced partner to create “an innovative new, multipurpose sports, educational, and entertainment venue to better serve students from all backgrounds and the broader community,” the city and SPS said in a joint statement Thursday.
The submissions will be evaluated and interviews will be conducted over the coming weeks, the statement said, “by a panel of staff and community representatives with an eye for creative designs which meet the project vision, objectives, program requirements and shared values.”
A partner decision by Mayor Bruce Harrell and SPS Superintendent Brent Jones is tentatively planned for late May. The deal will need approval from the City Council and the Seattle School Board. There will be a community outreach process after that, the city and SPS said Thursday.
The city and SPS have stressed that Memorial Stadium will remain a student-first venue. The request for proposals said SPS must retain priority scheduling from Sept. 1 through June 30, with nonstudent uses likely concentrated in the summer.
Leiweke declined to share details about his team’s proposal, which he said was submitted under the banner of One Roof Partnership, an entity with links to the Kraken, Climate Pledge Arena, their philanthropic arm (the One Roof Foundation) and Oak View Group. Oak View Group, a global sports and entertainment company led by Leiweke’s brother, Tim Leiweke, is the developer and operator of Climate Pledge Arena.
On Thursday, One Roof Partnership shared only the front page of its proposal, which features an artistic rendering of a new stadium with grandstands on at least three sides and a large video screen in one corner.
Tod Leiweke did mention Memorial Stadium’s history. The 12,000-seat venue was built in 1947 and dedicated to local students who died in World War II; a memorial wall was later added at the stadium with students’ names.
The stadium hosted activities during the 1962 World’s Fair, including a water skiing show and the fair’s opening and closing ceremonies. The Seattle Sounders played at the stadium before joining Major League Soccer, and the OL Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League have played there, as well.
The One Roof Partnership rendering includes a spruced-up memorial wall.
“That stadium has been there a long time,” Leiweke said. “It’s hosted some amazing events.”
“We read the request from the school district and the city very carefully and … the guiding light for us was community and community activism,” he added.
The RFP said a new venue must seat at least 8,000 people, add a new public space between the stadium and the International Fountain, and extend a walk-bike corridor from that area to Fifth Avenue.
The city and school district, which have earmarked more than $100 million in taxpayer funds for the project, want private investment as well. A conceptual design put together for the city last year by the architecture firm that designed Climate Pledge Arena estimated that a 9,400-seat new stadium with premium boxes and other amenities could cost as much as $250 million.
The RFP said the outside partner must carry out the construction project and be responsible for any cost overruns. The request said the city would lease the property from the school district on a long-term basis and then sublease the site to the partner. It said the partner could sell naming rights to the new stadium, as long as “Memorial” remains part of the new name.
On Thursday, Leiweke declined to comment on the price tag of the One Roof proposal. He also declined to share the number of seats in the proposal.
The conceptual design drawn up last year by Populous, a global expert in stadium architecture, mentioned the OL Reign and the Seattle Seawolves of Major League Rugby as potential investors in a new Memorial Stadium.
Those clubs aren’t part of the One Roof proposal at this time, Leiweke said.
“All those things become possible if you can get this done properly,” he said. “If you do this right, you can have all sorts of dreams.”
He mentioned Adrian Hanauer, a Kraken investor and the majority owner of the Sounders. Memorial Stadium is likely too small to host regular Sounders matches now, but the Sounders have academy and lower-division squads.
“[Hanauer] fully understands what the stadium has meant,” Leiweke said, “and he understands the community piece here.”