Seattle Public Schools, Seattle Center collaborate on Memorial Stadium vision

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Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle have issued a request for proposals for a private partner to replace Memorial Stadium with an innovative new, multi-purpose sports, educational and entertainment venue. The project will focus on expanding the ways the stadium serves students from all backgrounds and will be more open to the Seattle Center campus and integrated with its arts and cultural life.

SPS and the city will review proposals from potential private partners to invest in, design, build, operate, maintain and manage the new stadium, with SPS continuing to own the facility and maintain priority use. This approach helps SPS pay for the development of the new stadium and eliminates the Seattle School District’s costs to maintain and operate the facility. It also provides for a significantly enhanced facility beyond what it could develop on its own for a full range of athletics, graduation ceremonies and other events for future generations. The city and community, too, will benefit from a new multi-use stadium, which will transform the heart of the Seattle Center campus, support a broader range of cultural events, and create new open spaces and Seattle Center operations facilities. 

Public funds for the project currently include $66.5 million approved by Seattle voters in last year’s SPS capital levy, as well as $21 million from the city, plus another $19 million, which the Seattle City Council expressed its intent to identify no later than 2026. In addition, Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed $4 million in the state’s capital budget which is subject to State Legislature approval this session.

The shared vision for the new stadium will provide for further advancement of educational and racial equity, including opportunities to deepen engagement with Seattle Center’s resident arts, cultural and sports organizations. In support of this vision, SPS and the city seek a private partner to bring creative approaches to help advance the longstanding partners’ commitment to education and their objectives for fostering workforce development with career technical training in fields such as cultural, culinary and performing arts; science; journalism; sports and sports management.

“Memorial Stadium – and the Memorial Wall, dedicated to honoring alumni who lost their lives in World War II, has historical, experiential and emotional resonance for Seattle Public Schools,” SPS Superintendent Brent Jones said in a press release. “An enhanced stadium would allow the district to provide students with a modern facility for cultural performances, athletic events, commencement ceremonies, and social and educational opportunities. The School District is eager to demonstrate how this partnership can benefit students and families while improving integration with the Seattle Center campus.”

Several design concepts  that reimagine the 76-year-old Memorial Stadium — built on land the city gifted to the district — have been developed over the years as thought-starters, allowing for significantly greater integration with the Seattle Center campus and achieving the goals of Seattle Center’s Century 21 Master Plan. The RFP requires a design that removes the current stadium’s massive, view-obstructing walls; completes August Wilson Way with a long-awaited east-west pedestrian and bike connection across the Center’s campus; creates new public space linking the International Fountain with the stadium; and restores the Memorial Wall.

Following its selection, the private investor, SPS and the city — with support from Seattle Center Foundation — will launch an inclusive community engagement process for input from students, families and the greater community about the new stadium’s planning and design. The process, guided by a commitment to racial equity, will be informed and inspired by the voice of students of color to further educational justice.

Work on creating a new stadium first began in 2017 with a partnership agreement between SPS and the city. In 2021, a Letter of Intent was signed outlining the shared goal of replacing the athletic stadium with a best-in-class, multi-use facility, which was followed by a Memorandum of Agreement signed in October 2022.