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Bellevue NHL group pitched city officials on creating entertainment district adjacent to arena

Geoff Baker Seattle Times

Promoters of a failed NHL effort in Bellevue had pitched city officials on creating a sports and entertainment district adjacent to a proposed new arena for the city’s Wilburton district, according to newly released documents.

Handwritten notes taken at a June 22 meeting between Bellevue planning officials and those pushing for an arena and NHL team show they discussed the merits of similar sports and entertainment projects surrounding Staples Center in Los Angeles, Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, and an ongoing $1 billion development outside Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.

They also mentioned two key consultants working alongside longtime NHL and NBA power broker Jac Sperling on the Tampa project, bankrolled by Lightning owner Jeff Vinik: Boston-based planner Jeff Speck and New York development firm Delos Living.

The notes, taken by assistant city attorney Monica Buck and released to the Seattle Times in response to a public-records request, show Sperling attended the Bellevue meeting as did Mason Cave, who represents an Arizona company controlling part of the envisioned arena land east of Interstate 405.

Sperling and Cave pitched the Bellevue officials on the merits of the “L.A. Live” district. They discussed how Staples Center involved “no public investment” but that developers did receive infrastructure “incentives” from local government, with one example being a parking garage.

Speck, working as the “design lead” for the Tampa venture, said in a telephone interview Friday he’d never been approached about a Bellevue project but understands how his name and that of Delos Living could come up in a meeting attended by Sperling.

Two days after the Bellevue meeting, the NHL announced its expansion process and set a July 20 deadline for submitting application fees of $10 million. The Bellevue group and groups in the Sodo District and Tukwila all requested application packets from the league. But all three groups balked at submitting their applications by last Monday’s deadline.

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