Seattle Courant

With Sonics Gone, City Renegotiates Key Arena Contract with KeyCorp

By Andrea Cirignano
March 25, 2009 04:03PM

The original agreement included a clause allowing renegotiation if the Seattle Super Sonics stopped playing home games at Key Arena. In 2008, after the Sonics left Seattle, renegotiation began.

The bill discussed yesterday, sponsored by Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, would replace the prior 15-year agreement with a new 2-year agreement, ending in December 2010.

Marc Jones, Director of Marketing and Development for Seattle Center said the title sponsorship was not available to other companies because the original agreement with KeyCorp, signed in 1995, would have also terminated at the end of 2010.

"Under the terms of this agreement, KeyCorp, would be responsible for paying the city $300,000 in 2009 and in 2010," said Sara Belz, council central staff.

According to Belz, if the Sonics would have stayed in Seattle and continued to play home games in KeyArena, the city would have received approximately $1.3 million in title sponsorship costs from KeyCorp.

In response to complaints about the reduced title sponsorship cost, Robert Nellams, director of Seattle Center, said, "I challenge anyone in this country, in this environment, to get $100,000 from a financial institution."

Nellams said the Key Arena title sponsorship, without a NBA team is only worth $200,000 to $500,000 a year.

"I have no qualms about what we've done," said Nellams, "In fact, I'm proud of what we've done in terms of maintaining our relationship with Key Bank."