Sep 27, 2023 - Development

Memorial Stadium rebuild advances with Seattle council vote

A rendering of a renovated Memorial Stadium with covered bleacher seating and wide open green field.

An illustration of the proposed redevelopment of Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center. Rendering: Courtesy of One Roof Partnership

The Seattle City Council approved a resolution Tuesday to support and pledge money toward the redevelopment of the 76-year-old Memorial Stadium in the heart of the city.

Why it matters: Though the stadium may not be ready for professional play by the time Seattle hosts the World Cup in 2026, it could be a venue for entertainment and music during the event, Marshall Foster, director of Seattle Center, told Axios.

  • Tuesday's resolution, which the council passed 8-1, asks city officials to start drafting the agreements necessary to get the stadium remodel off the ground.

Details: The worn field has hosted some of the city's most important events: World's Fair ceremonies, thousands of student athletes' games, hundreds of graduations and concerts.

  • But it's long overdue for an update, Fred Podesta of Seattle Public Schools (SPS) told Axios, and with levy funding in place and the city's financial backing, it's time to act.

Details: SPS owns the stadium and the city owns Seattle Center, where the stadium is located. Together, they put out a request for proposals from private entities to demolish, rebuild and operate the stadium earlier this year.

  • One Roof Partnership, which has links to the Seattle Kraken and the Oak View Group that redeveloped and runs the city's Climate Pledge Arena, was selected to build the new $150 million, 10,000-seat stadium, SPS said.
  • Renderings of One Roof Partnership's proposal show grandstands surrounding the field, large video screens and entrances on two sides.
  • Public funds for the project include the $66.5 million voter-approved school capital levy funds, $4 million from the state and an anticipated $40 million from the city, $21 million of which has been contributed to date, per SPS.

The stadium will first and foremost serve Seattle students during the school year, Podesta said this week.

  • But the rebuild, slated to be finished no later than 2027, is an opportunity to integrate the stadium better with Seattle Center and make it more accessible and useful to the public.
  • "We want it to have as much community use as possible," he said.

What they're saying: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a state-of-the-art stadium in the cultural heart of our city that puts the needs of Seattle's students first," City Council President Debora Juarez said last week.

The other side: Councilmember Kshama Sawant cast the lone vote against the resolution.

  • At Tuesday's council meeting, Sawant said she would prefer that the city impose higher taxes on corporations to pay for the stadium renovation, rather than relying on a private-public partnership.

What's next: The council's vote reaffirmed the city's commitment to the project, but the contracts won't be signed until early next year, Podesta said.

An SEATTLE, WASHINGTAn XFL Seattle Dragons player runs to the locker room after practice at Memorial Stadium in 2020.
John Santiago of the Seattle Dragons runs to the locker room after practice at Memorial Stadium in 2020. Photo: Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Marshall Foster is the director of Seattle Center (not its interim director) and that the contracts (not third-party contracts) will be signed early next year.


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