Seattle Public Schools

Memorial Stadium Replacement Project

Summary: On June 15, Seattle Public Schools and City of Seattle announced One Roof Partnership as a potential partner for the memorial stadium.

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and the City of Seattle are building on their longstanding partnership by collaborating on the replacement of the school district’s Memorial Stadium, which is located at Seattle Center. SPS will continue to own the stadium and retain priority scheduled use of the venue, which will adhere to all athletic league standards.

To support this shared vision, the partners recently issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify a private partner to provide the additional capital necessary for this legacy project.

On June 15, Superintendent Brent Jones and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced that Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle will enter into discussions with One Roof Partnership – comprised of One Roof Foundation, Seattle Kraken and Oak View Group – as their potential partner in redeveloping and operating the Memorial Stadium. An advisory panel of SPS and city staff and community representatives reviewed the proposals and interviewed the prospective partners before recommending One Roof Partnership.

In making the announcement, Dr. Jones and Mayor Harrell said in a joint statement:

“As longtime partners in serving students and the community, SPS and the City of Seattle are excited to enter into discussions with One Roof Partnership following our recent RFP process for the future of Memorial Stadium.

“We have carefully considered the recommendation of the Memorial Stadium Advisory Panel, and agree that One Roof Partnership’s proposal makes a promising case for a potential partnership with a strong understanding of our values, a bold vision for an innovative new stadium, and which comes closest to meeting the requirements, goals and student-centered focus of the RFP.

“As a potential partner, One Roof Partnership proposes a philanthropic funding approach, rather than a commercial enterprise. This unique approach best reflects community, with an emphasis on creating new opportunities for students and youth from all backgrounds, and has promise to be a great enhancement to the Seattle Center campus.

“On behalf of SPS and the city, we want to express our sincere appreciation to both proposers for their interest in redeveloping and operating Memorial Stadium. Both proposals reflect the work of highly qualified and professional organizations that have demonstrated the ability to develop and operate major athletic facilities, and we are grateful for their time, effort, interest and participation in this process.”

With this announcement, the parties will continue to discuss the proposal in hopes of a mutual agreement to be considered by the Seattle School Board and Seattle City Council later this year.

As with other successful public-private partnerships (including McCaw Hall, Pacific Science Center, MoPOP, and Seattle Children’s Theatre at the Seattle Center) partnering with a private investor-operator will help ensure the civic investment operates at the highest professional standards without competing priorities or at the whim of budget cycles.

Students and the community will have opportunities to provide input to help shape the planning and design through a community engagement process following partnership negotiation. The process, guided by best practices used in other successful civic and school projects, will be based on a strong commitment to equity, inclusion and access. 

Memorial Stadium Replacement Project

Project Updates

April 2024

Continued drafting agreements between SPS and the partners to implement and operate the enhanced stadium project. Submitted a federal grant application for capital project scope in partnership with One Roof Stadium Partnership, the proposed developer. Held first open house with One Roof Stadium Partnership and city partners.

In May, work will continue to draft agreements, and planning will continue to develop engagement strategies and activities to reach key SPS internal and external stakeholders.

Potential Partner Announced

On June 15, Seattle Public Schools and City of Seattle announced One Roof Partnership as a potential partner for the memorial stadium.

As one of the respondents to a recent SPS/City of Seattle-issued Request for Proposals (RFP), One Roof Partnership proposes to build a new $150 million, 10,000-person capacity stadium to host student athletics, community events, arts and culture, with SPS continuing to own the facility and maintain priority use. The new stadium, which is being aimed for completion in 2026, will honor the stadium’s rich history and preserve Memorial Wall.

An advisory panel of SPS and City staff and community representatives reviewed the proposals and interviewed the prospective partners before recommending One Roof Partnership.

With this announcement, the parties will continue to discuss the proposal in hopes of a mutual agreement to be considered by the SPS Board of Directors and Seattle City Council later this year.

The One Roof Partnership’s involvement will build upon significant public investment which includes $66.5 million approved by Seattle voters in last year’s SPS capital levy, as well as $4 million in state funding; $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, One Roof Partnership has committed to lead efforts to raise the additional funding needed for the project.

Students and the community will have opportunities to provide input to help shape the planning and design through a community engagement process following partnership negotiation. The process, guided by best practices used in other successful civic and school projects, will be based on a strong commitment to equity, inclusion and access.

What is the shared vision for the new Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center?

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and the City of Seattle have successfully managed and programmed Memorial Stadium for decades with sporting events, high school graduation ceremonies, concerts, walk/run fundraising events, community festivals such as Bumbershoot, and other special events.

The district and the city are building upon their longstanding partnership with plans for a visionary new multi-use student and community events facility – replacing the 76-year-old Memorial Stadium with a legacy investment for year-round athletics, education, entertainment, and a focus on expanding the ways the stadium.

This new project builds upon the basic $66.5 million athletic facility replacement approved by voters in last year’s BTA V Levy, with the identification of a private partner. The private partner will invest in, design, build, operate and maintain the new stadium, with SPS continuing to own the stadium and maintain priority use. This approach helps SPS pay for the development of the new stadium and eliminates the Seattle Public School’s costs to maintain and operate the facility, while providing students with an enhanced facility.

Shared values guide this work focusing on students, equity, community access and engagement, quality design and experience, partnerships, operations, maintenance, and financial and environmental sustainability.

This new state-of-the-art facility will serve as a welcoming hub of year-round activity with flexible spaces for a variety of athletic, learning and development, and cultural and entertainment events for our community.

What is the history of Memorial Stadium?

Seattle Public Schools’ Memorial Stadium is a successor of Civic Field, built in 1927 as part of the city’s Civic Complex.

In 1946 the City of Seattle deeded the land to SPS to build, operate, and maintain a new athletic field. A voter-approved school levy and bonds (issued in 1942 and 1944) provided funding for the improvement of school buildings and the construction of today’s Memorial Stadium, completed in 1947.

The stadium was selected as the site for a war memorial by a group of community leaders appointed by Seattle Mayor William Devin following World War II to pay tribute to the nearly 800 SPS alums who lost their lives in the war.

Revenues from Thanksgiving Day football games played in the stadium from 1947-1949 paid for the Memorial Wall, designed by Garfield High School student Marianne Hanson. The formal memorial dedication occurred on May 29, 1951.

Today, Memorial Stadium is used for numerous school events annually. It attracts hundreds of thousands of students and community members each year for high school athletic events, graduation ceremonies, and community events, such as Bumbershoot.

What is the agreement between Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle regarding the funding and construction of a new Memorial Stadium?

The district’s $66.5 million levy funds for Memorial Stadium alone would fund a basic student athletics facility by replacing the stands, field turf, lighting, and some additional building upgrades. This stadium would seat approximately 4,500 people.

SPS and the City of Seattle signed a partnership agreement to collaborate on the design of a Memorial Stadium replacement in November 2017, followed by a Letter of Intent in October 2021, and a Memorandum of Agreement signed in October 2022. The agreements outline the framework for a funding partnership to enhance that basic stadium concept and create a more visionary, higher-quality stadium which can be a spectacular venue for students and the community with a minimum of 8,000 seats.

What is the status of the project?

SPS and the city are collaborating on a shared vision for a Memorial Stadium. In recent years, the two have worked with architectural firms – Seattle-based Bassetti Architects and NBBJ, as well as Populous – to create several design concepts. Earlier this year, a Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued to identify a potential private partner to invest in, design, build, operate, maintain and manage the new facility.

In June, following the RFP process, SPS and the City announced that they will advance negotiations with the One Roof Partnership – comprised of the One Roof Foundation, Seattle Kraken and Oak View Group – as their potential preferred partner.

Discussions will now refine the proposal and develop more detailed agreements around the project anticipated to be considered by the SPS Board of Directors and Seattle City Council later this year.

What are the stadium ownership and operating terms between Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle?

Seattle Public Schools, which will lease Memorial Stadium to the City of Seattle, owns the stadium and retains priority use.

With the new stadium, the city will sub-lease the venue to the private partner under the direction of the city and an operations and maintenance oversight committee consisting of representatives of the city, SPS and representatives of the selected developer/operator.

What is the design and construction timeline for the new stadium?

The timeline for the project assumes planning will begin in 2023 and that construction is aiming to be completed in Spring 2026, if possible, but no later than December 31, 2027 per the RFP.

How can community members share their opinions and perspective about the design of the new facility? What is the timeline for that input?

Initial outreach has begun with student and cultural groups, Seattle Center staff and resident organizations, and dozens of community-based organizations.

Beginning this summer students and the community will have additional opportunities to provide input to help shape the planning and design through a community engagement process to run concurrent with the continuing partnership negotiation. The process, guided by best practices used in other successful civic and school projects, will be based on a strong commitment to equity, inclusion and access.

What community outreach efforts are being taken to help ensure equity input?

The community engagement process is a joint effort between the project partners, designed to be inclusive of students, families, and the greater community – both users and non-users of the stadium – through presentations, site tours, online engagement, and direct outreach to community organizations which are guided by a racial equity analysis tool designed to drive inclusive community engagement.

What is the design concept for the new stadium, and what opportunity will the public have to weigh in on the design plans for the stadium?

The potential partner’s proposal proposes to build a 10,000-seat stadium to host student athletic, arts and culture, and community events.

The proposal honors the stadium’s history and preserves Memorial Wall, and includes additional programmable space and enhanced views from the stadium into the Seattle Center campus.

Beginning this summer, students and the community will have opportunities to provide input to help shape the planning and design through a community engagement process to run concurrent with the continuing partnership negotiation. The process, guided by a commitment to racial equity, will be informed and inspired by the voice of students of color furthest from educational justice. Eventually, the final design will be reviewed by the Seattle Design Commission, along with an environmental review, which will provide additional opportunities for public comment.

What is the anticipated cost of the new stadium?

In its response to the recent RFP issued by SPS and the City, One Roof Partnership proposes a new $150 million 10,000 seat stadium to host student athletics, arts and culture, and community events, though a formal cost estimate for the new facility will be determined based on the final design following partner negotiations and the community engagement process.

The One Roof Partnership’s involvement will build upon significant public investment which includes $66.5 million approved by Seattle voters in last year’s SPS capital levy, as well as $4 million in state funding; $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, the One Roof Partnership has committed to lead efforts to raise the additional funding needed for the project.

Why is the City investing up to $40 million in a new Memorial Stadium which is owned by Seattle Public Schools?

Memorial Stadium, although owned by Seattle Public Schools, has always been an integral part of Seattle Center. The shared SPS and city vision for a new stadium supports the Seattle Center’s Century 21 Master Plan and will fully integrate it into the Seattle Center campus, by removing walls and opening views, as never before.

Specifically, the project provides several direct public benefits including (1) the completion of August Wilson Way with a long-awaited east-west pedestrian connection across the center’s campus; (2) the creation of new landscaped open space linking the International Fountain with the stadium; (3) the inclusion of multi-purpose event space, and new centralized storage and maintenance facilities for the center, relocating to the campus from current off-site locations for improved operational efficiencies and saving $500,000 in annual lease costs; (4) and new view corridors on all four sides of the stadium, replacing the “fortress”-like structure existing today. None of these city-requested project elements will be provided if SPS constructs a basic replacement stadium.

Finally, if this civic partnership can advance quickly, the new stadium may be ready for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and other anticipated events including the 2026 celebration of the country’s 250th anniversary. Importantly, with the anticipated future return of NBA basketball to Seattle, the new stadium’s field can be converted for outdoor basketball, such as 3-on-3 games for youth and adults.

How much funding for the stadium comes from the capital levy, and how much is projected from philanthropy and other sources?

The One Roof Partnership’s involvement will build upon significant public investment which includes $66.5 million approved by Seattle voters in last year’s SPS capital levy, as well as $4 million in state funding; $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, the One Roof Partnership has committed to lead efforts to raise the additional funding needed for the project.

How will the new stadium prioritize students and equitable access?

The new venue will prioritize students by providing a premier athletic field for SPS students and graduation ceremonies, as well as flexible space for education activities. The re-envisioned flexible design will be a place for everyone, allowing for year-round activity, including athletics, education, and a diverse array of arts, culture, and community events.

How does the new venue contribute to the future vision of Seattle Center?

The Seattle Center’s Century 21 Master Plan calls for active, open, public space – and the reimagining of Memorial Stadium which will help to fulfill that vision in several ways, including the removal of the current stadium’s massive, view-obstructing walls; the completion of August Wilson Way with the long-awaited east-west pedestrian and bike connection across the center’s campus; the creation of new public open space linking the International Fountain with the stadium; and preservation of the Memorial Wall.

In addition, the new stadium will provide operational efficiencies with the centralization of Seattle Center storage and maintenance facilities, which are currently located off-campus and across multiple campus sites, and easier load-in/load-out and staging areas for all stadium events.

Who will be responsible for scheduling events at the new stadium?

Once finalized, the partnership agreement between SPS, the city and a private partner will address the new stadium’s operations, maintenance, marketing, and use agreements, including a scheduling protocol which prioritizes SPS needs for student events (i.e., sporting events, graduation ceremonies, etc.) with SPS being the anchor user of the new facility.

What is the plan for Memorial Wall with the replacement of Memorial Stadium?

SPS, the city and our potential partner recognize the importance of Memorial Wall, and are committed to preserving and enhancing the wall with any new stadium design.

What are the benefits of public-private investment in the Memorial Stadium project?

Enlisting a private partner to invest in, design, build, operate, maintain and manage the new stadium will provide the additional capital necessary for this legacy project, beyond what the school district could afford on its own. The state-of-the-art stadium – and the more frequent and broader range of student and community events it will host – will also rely on a professional event venue operations and management partner. With year-round programming, it will require a higher level of expertise than either the city or SPS is equipped to provide. By partnering with a private investor-operator, we can ensure that our civic investment is managed, operated and maintained at the highest professional standards without competing priorities or at the whim of budget cycles.

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.

The public-private partnership model has also proven to be successful with so many other beloved Seattle area amenities and landmarks, with many located at Seattle Center including McCaw Hall, Pacific Science Center, MoPOP, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Center Armory, Fisher Pavilion, Climate Pledge Arena and others.

A New Vision for Memorial Stadium

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and the City of Seattle are building on their longstanding partnership by collaborating on the replacement of the school district’s Memorial Stadium.

The project will create an innovative new multi-purpose sports, educational, and entertainment venue that will be seamlessly integrated with the Seattle Center campus and welcoming to all.

SPS will continue to own the stadium and retain priority scheduled use of the venue, which will adhere to all athletic league standards.

An enhanced stadium would allow the district to provide students a modern facility for cultural performances, athletic events, commencement ceremonies and social and educational opportunities. The school district is eager to demonstrate how this public partnership can benefit students and families, while improving the openness and integration of the Seattle Center campus.

“Memorial Stadium — and the Memorial Wall dedicated to honor alumni who lost their lives in World War II — has historical, experiential and emotional resonance for Seattle Public Schools.”

– Dr. Brent Jones, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent

This exciting Memorial Stadium replacement is a win for our students, their families, and our entire community.

Our shared vision for this facility means more than an improved athletic field – it represents developing a state-of-the-art facility capable of hosting a wide array of events and creating countless more Memorial Stadium memories for our communities.

This project captures our One Seattle approach to collaboration, innovation, activation, and opportunity, and I look forward to the work of this partnership moving forward.”

– Bruce Harrell, City of Seattle Mayor

Memorial Stadium Partners

Four logos: SPS, City of Seattle, Seattle Center, and Seattle Center Foundation

Centering Student Opportunities

Nathan Hale and Mount Si face off on the starting line during a game.

The vision for the dynamic new stadium is to center on students. This includes expanded opportunities for SPS students with new spaces to deepen engagement with Seattle Center’s resident arts, cultural, and sports organizations.

The project also provides a valuable opportunity to foster potential workforce development with career and technical training in fields such as cultural, culinary, and performing arts; science; journalism; and sports and sports management with access to skilled workers and professionals on the ground.

Greater Integration with Seattle Center

Reimagining the 76-year-old Memorial Stadium will allow for significantly greater integration with the Seattle Center campus, working toward the goals of Seattle Center’s Century 21 Master Plan.

This includes: removing the existing massive walls; completing August Wilson Way with a long-awaited east-west pedestrian and bike connection; and creating new landscaped open space linking the International Fountain with the stadium while also preserving Memorial Wall and elevating its place of honor.

Funding This Project

Public funds for the project currently include the $66.5 million voter-approved SPS capital levy funds, along with $4 million included in Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed capital budget (subject to State Legislature approval), and an anticipated $40 million from the City of Seattle, $21 million of which has been contributed to date.

Seattle Public Schools Budget and Funding

The funds SPS is committing to the project come from capital levy approved by Seattle voters in 2022.

Because this fund is specifically allocated to build or maintain capital assets, it can’t be used for operating expenses. The salary and benefits of most employees are paid from the general fund.

mutilevel grandstands with an angled roof - part of an athletic field below it and a wall behind it. The Space Needle is in  the background behind the wall
Current grandstands at Memorial Stadium – Tim Durkan photo

Seeking a Private Partner

To support this shared vision, the partners have issued a request for proposal (RFP) for a private partner to provide the additional capital necessary for this legacy project.

This will elevate it beyond the basic student stadium rebuild approved in SPS’s 2022 Buildings, Technology, and Academics/Athletics V Capital Levy (BTA V) to better serve the needs of generations of SPS students and the community in new and exciting ways in the heart of the city.

SPS and the city intend to work with the private partner — with philanthropic support from Seattle Center Foundation — to construct, operate, and manage the new premier stadium, expanding beyond what the school district and the city could afford on their own.

As with other successful public-private partnerships (including McCaw Hall, Pacific Science Center, MoPOP, and Seattle Children’s Theatre at the Seattle Center) partnering with a private investor-operator will help ensure the civic investment operates at the highest professional standards without competing priorities or at the whim of budget cycles.

“As a proud graduate of The Center School at Seattle Center, I know how important accessible, high-quality public facilities are for Seattle’s children to succeed. I am proud of the coalition that came together to support my proposal to secure funding for Memorial Stadium in this year’s budget. Together, we will meet our commitment to the students of Seattle Public Schools and our community as a whole.”

– Andrew J. Lewis, Seattle City Councilmember

“The Seattle Public Schools funding, along with the City’s financial commitment mark an important next step toward realizing this visionary civic project. The Seattle Center Foundation looks forward to helping rally philanthropic and private support to achieve our collective vision of a world-class, multi-purpose event facility in the heart of Seattle Center for students and communities in our region.”

– Jane Zalutsky, Seattle Center Foundation Executive Director

Collaborative Planning

This work first began in 2017 with a partnership agreement between SPS and the City of Seattle to collaboratively design a Memorial Stadium replacement and coordinate development of the SPS property with the Seattle Center.

In 2021, SPS and the city signed a Letter of Intent outlining the shared goal of replacing the athletic stadium with a more visionary, multi-use facility, which was followed by a Memorandum of Agreement in October 2022. With this agreement SPS and the City will continue their longstanding partnership at Memorial Stadium, with SPS retaining ownership and priority use for student events, while the City would maximize use of the facility through community activities.

In 2022, Seattle voters approved the Buildings, Technology, and Academics/Athletics V Capital Levy (BTA V), which included $66.5 million for the Memorial Stadium project.

Seattle businesses, community organizations and civic leaders are early supporters of this shared vision for a world-class facility which centers on students and equity, including Cornish College of the Arts, Downtown Seattle Association, Greater Seattle Partners, KEXP, Seattle Building & Construction Trades Council, SIFF, Seattle Sports Commission, Uptown Alliance, Uptown Arts & Culture Coalition, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, and YMCA of Greater Seattle.

Over time, a number of concepts have been generated to imagine Memorial Stadium’s future. A selection of images from these studies are below.

photograph of Seattle Center with multiple public buildings in the foreground and an expanse of water in the background - a double sided stadium has been digitally added with an athletic field
2022 study by Populous Architects
architect drawing of a large green sports field with covered seating in tiers on both sides set within a larger area with trees and a gated entrance
2021 study by Bassetti Architects
a drawing of the existing seattle center in black and gray with the area of memorial stadium rendered as a design concept with wrap around grandstands and an opening toward the fountain near the stadium
2018 study by NBBJ/GGN
a color drawing of a large green area in front of the space needle -there are people in curved seats facing a stage, other people on stepped seating, and a large number of people on an open lawn with canopy tents. The Armory and the Climate Pledge Arena can be seen in the background
2008 Century 21 Master Plan

Process and Next Steps

Following the selection of a private investor, the City and SPS, with support from Seattle Center Foundation, will launch an inclusive engagement process, guided by a commitment to racial equity, for input from students, families, and the greater community about the new stadium’s programming and design.

This thoughtful process will continue with the design review, aligning with the City’s One Seattle focus — to make the city more equitable, livable, sustainable, and resilient for today’s communities and future residents — and with SPS’s policy for educational and racial equity.

In the meantime, the public will have an opportunity to learn more about the proposals and provide input via public forums to be announced in the coming months.

About Memorial Stadium

Seattle Public Schools’ Memorial Stadium is a successor to Civic Field, built in 1927 as part of the City’s Civic Complex.

The City of Seattle deeded the land to SPS in 1946 to build, operate, and maintain a new athletic field. Voters approved a school levy and bonds (issued in 1942 and 1944) to provide funding for the improvement of school buildings and the construction of today’s Memorial Stadium, which was completed in 1947.

a curved orange surface in the foreground looks down to an athletic field and grandstands below with other buildings on the outside
View of the current Memorial Stadium from the Space Needle – Tim Durkan photo

The stadium was selected as the site for a war memorial by a group of community leaders, appointed by Seattle Mayor William Devin following World War II, to pay tribute to the nearly 800 SPS alumni who lost their lives in the war.

The Memorial Wall was designed by Garfield High School student Marianne Hanson. Revenues from Thanksgiving Day football games played in the stadium from 1947-49 paid for construction and installation of the Memorial Wall.

Throughout its history, Memorial Stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies for the Seattle World’s Fair and tens of thousands of concerts and community events.

Today, the 75-year-old Memorial Stadium is used for numerous school events each year — attracting hundreds of thousands of students and community members for high school athletic events, graduation ceremonies, and community events.

Seattle has been named an official host city for the FIFA World Cup 2026™, so advancing quickly with the project could provide another new facility to support associated events and activities.


Contacts and Resources

Media Contact: SPSmedia@seattleschools.org

Media Relations webpage

Request for Proposal for Development Partner Please note: This document provides access to a courtesy copy of the RFP. It is not the official RFP registration page. Potential proposers must register with the City of Seattle’s procurement portal.

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