King County Council approved an amended proposal from investor Chris Hansen by a 6-3 vote to build a NBA/NHL arena in the SoDo district. The Storm was included in one amendment, the county asking the city and Hansen to find a favorable and transferable lease, according to The Associated Press.
The Storm receives about a $300,000 yearly subsidy from the city, negotiated in 2009 after the Sonics were sold to Oklahoma businessmen in 2008. The WNBA team is in the midst of a 10-year lease with the city and an economical transfer to the new arena is a sticking point in negotiations between Hansen and the city, according to The Associated Press.
In an interview with Karen Bryant when Hansen’s proposal was originally announced, the Storm CEO and president stated that while KeyArena has worked for the team, a new arena would help the Storm’s future. As various Sonics owners found, there are limits on rooms to hold sponsor functions and improve suites.
The Storm owners stated, however, that they weren’t involved in original talks about the arena or KeyArena’s future. Hansen would like to renovate the facility into a smaller venue fit for concerts, which could hinder basketball capacity which is at 17,072 overall and 9,686 for Storm games. The team curtains off the upper-bowl for most games, removing for popular games and the postseason. When the Storm won the 2004 championship, it had a true sellout (17,072) for two WNBA Finals home games.