Seattle/King County Clinic – Letter to the Community

To our valued community partners:

The decision not to host the Seattle King County Health Clinic (SKCC) at Climate Pledge Arena (CPA) this year has been materially misunderstood, and we are writing as partners to set the record straight. Both Oak View Group (OVG) / CPA and Seattle Center (SC) are committed to seeing this critical community clinic realized at the new arena, and are disappointed that our communication to you, the dedicated volunteers, and the community has not provided clarity and detail around the complexities of hosting and scheduling future Clinics.

CPA and SC went into this partnership excited to seeing how the SKCC could be realized in a new arena. Integration Agreement acknowledges that scheduling would be a challenge due to the complexities of needing approximately 12 months to procure health clinic equipment with limited availability, raise funds to produce the Clinic, and secure the time of the talented and committed volunteer pool.

Those agreements also recognized the arena would have extensive contractual scheduling requirements with its two anchor tenants: the WNBA and NHL. During SKCC’s years of operating at KeyArena, the building didn’t have a Fall through Spring professional team (i.e., NHL or NBA). Determining a feasible window for the clinic also requires navigating the busy event schedule of Seattle Center’s facilities and necessary staffing resources.

Nonetheless, in 2019 as construction started on the arena, CPA provided SC with recommended 2022 and 2023 dates for the Clinic in October of both years. These dates were to be finalized once additional logistics, operating agreement, and scheduling were confirmed as required by the Integration Agreement.

In early 2021, as CPA targeted a late Fall 2021 opening date, and while our community continued to live through the impacts of the ongoing pandemic, CPA and SC connected and acknowledged two things:

(1) uncertainty of the Clinic for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19 and emerging variants; and

(2) recognition that CPA’s anchor tenants of NHL and WNBA and their respective league obligations make the Clinic’s requirement of seven annual consecutive days in October an impracticality. As such, CPA offered numerous alternative dates for the 2022 SKCC, as well as other alternative solutions such as use of the Kraken Community Iceplex.

Climate Pledge Arena did not choose to schedule concerts over the SKCC in 2022, as has been asserted. While CPA can host concerts and events during the WNBA and NHL seasons, it could not block off use of the arena for seven full days to transform the arena to a medical facility without violating the terms of those contracts and their respective league rules.

CPA and SC continued to work in partnership but realized a full clinic would not be feasible in 2022. We understood the community need for these vital services to be provided as soon as possible.
As a result, Seattle Center made the decision to hold a vision-only clinic in 2022, and a full clinic in April 2023 utilizing other campus facilities to serve the community in the most expeditious timeframe possible. SC informed CPA of this decision.

CPA, OVG and SC are optimistic and committed that we will find a guaranteed period that all parties can count on for the long term (multiple years out). SC is pursuing a few timeframes with equipment providers, and hope to jointly announce an annual clinic event window in the near future.

CPA and the Seattle Kraken are actively participating in fundraising conversations to ensure the Clinic will continue to grow and serve even more of our community members in need. We acknowledge the outpouring of passion and demand for the important services the Clinic provides, especially to those vulnerable in our community who have suffered the hardest during the past few years. Collectively we believe the Seattle King County Clinic is a tentpole event in the calendar, which is why efforts have been doubled to make the Clinic a reality in the arena once again.

In the meantime, we apologize on behalf of our organizations, particularly to the people who make SKCC as special and valued as it’s become to our community. We should’ve communicated these complexities earlier and more clearly. While we are jumping back into pre-COVID routines like the rest of you, it has been sobering to recognize that a clinic that takes 12 months of planning and extensive collaboration can’t just happen because we all desperately want to make it so.

We will do better, and we sincerely hope the community will again be proud to partner with Oak View Group/ Climate Pledge Arena and Seattle Center as we see this clinic to its full potential in the coming years.

Logos for OVG (Oak View Group). Tree in a circle; Seattle Center (three circles overlapping); Climate Pledge Arena

###