BY Art Thiel 05:34PM 04/04/2012

Thiel: SoDo arena, the truth and the Mariners

The city had some solutions to the SoDo traffic problem 10 years ago, and abandoned them. Now the Mariners are reminding all, but because it’s the Mariners, nobody cares.

Lander Street looking east from First Avenue South -- a slow way out of SoDo. / City of Seattle

Rather than rely on rhetoric in the first of many dust-ups over the proposed arena, please go to this City of Seattle link to start understanding why frequent SoDo users and businesses, including the Seattle Mariners, are pissed off.

It doesn’t make arena builder Chris Hansen or the Mariners right or wrong. It illustrates why this proposal has more vipers per square foot than an Indiana Jones nightmare.

As far back as 2002, the city of Seattle knew the traffic/freight problems were so bad in SoDo after the construction of the two stadiums that something had to be done. An overpass was proposed for South Lander Street that would be the southerly bookend to the overpass at what became Edgar Martinez Way.

The overpass would provide a second way to get into and out of SoDo and toward I-5 for a busy industrial part of town that is way too full of water, railroad tracks and topographical barriers to make for quick, easy navigation.

The city decided in 2003 that the overpass, which would touch down on First Avenue South and Fourth Avenue South, was worth $80 million to the gaggle of users desperate to get beyond the trains and semi-trailer trucks that are delivering our groceries, cars and $150 Nike sneakers made for $5 in China.

As the link shows, design began in February 2007. It stopped in March 2008. Why? According to city sources and news accounts, funding was diverted to the Mercer Street project.

Without getting into pros and cons of one project over another, the fact was that a commitment spanning nearly a decade to SoDo went away. It hasn’t come back. In that time, the price tag probably has come close to doubling.

So the question about the SoDo arena project is this: Who pays for the $150 million infrastructure upgrade that everyone, including Hansen, would have to agree is necessary to make a third sports palace work efficiently?

Hansen’s proposed $290 contribution presumably doesn’t include money for roads. The city owns, creates and maintain the roads.

The $200 million the city and King County are being asked to contribute certainly includes infrastructure improvements. But if the city quit on a project needed in 2002 and priced at $80 million, who thinks the city and county will assign in 2013, after the recession smothered tax revenues, three-quarters of its commitment to one overpass?

More examples of the project’s layers and complexity are plentiful. But here’s how the arena panel was to have addressed the transportation knot in its report, due for release Wednesday evening and obtained by Sportspress Northwest:

“Further study and assessment of State and City transportation infrastructure and parking availability is necessary to determine the ability of the system to adequately support both maritime/industrial uses and the new arena. Future studies should identify improvements to transportation infrastructure that could enhance access and operation of the Port of Seattle’s cargo operations and other maritime and industrial uses.”

Further study? Oh, hell no. The city already studied it 10 years ago and identified the problem. All that has happened is that traffic has gotten worse, and will get worse with the replacement of the viaduct with the tunnel. As the new tolling on the 520 bridge has demonstrated, drivers will go to great lengths to avoid the toll. Same for the tunnel toll. They will pour over the streets of SoDo to get around paying for the hole in the mud.

The Mariners are so agitated about this problem that, in the face of all their baseball failures, they are willing to risk what remains of their tattered cred to be the front-and -center villain for this deed.

They know that the Port of Seattle feels the same way about the arena location. So does SoDo’s industrial council. But few members of the public are going to get mad at the port or the council.

However, the public can’t wait to jump on the Mariners ownership because of their baseball misdeeds, and the perception that the Mariners’ real agenda is fear of competition from other sports franchises that potentially might know what they’re doing.

Team president Chuck Armstrong began his campaign Wednesday at a breakfast sponsored by Puget Sound Business Journal at a downtown hotel, then went on air at both sports-talk radio stations, and diligently tolerated every TV and online interview request. He beseeched media members with the argument that it isn’t the eight or 10 dates a year in the Mariners’ April calendar that might conflict with NBA and NHL dates at the arena.

“The sports teams are the least of our concerns,” he said. “To make an arena work, it probably needs 200 event dates. It’s all the concerts, flat shows and conventions that concern us.”

Judging from the reactions on social media as well as in-boxes and the street, Armstrong wasn’t making much headway. That’s what happens when a sports team fails to deliver for a long time, and fails to be accountable to its public. Suddenly the time has come again when the franchise needs the emotional and political support it had in 1995, when the first six weeks of good baseball in 18 years bought them $380 million in tax money for a new stadium.

It seems like 10 years since the Mariners strung together six weeks of good baseball. In that epic spell of drought and dreariness, it cost them only in the standings, at the gate and TV ratings. Now, it’s costing them in ways they never imagined.

By the Lander Street evidence, the city already was already on record 10 years ago as agreeing with everything the Mariners, port and council are saying now about the traffic problems of SoDo.

But because the Mariners are saying it, few believe them and fewer care. That may be the saddest benchmark of the franchise’s decline. They can speak the truth, and most of the public prefers to believe anything but.

The sports public is quicker to believe a hedge fund manager with no experience in real estate development than their own eyes, experience, city documents and ballclub evidence over 12 years.

See what happens when Chone Figgins bats leadoff?


YourThoughts

  • http://twitter.com/kingwabbit Jeff Shope

    but it’s zoned for stadium use?  scooby snacks?  Since when is seattle car/traffic friendly anyway see tunnel that will handle less traffic than viaduct 20 years from now it’s a seattle “thing” to make car coummuters miserable so why the concern now.  They forget that cars and cigarette smokers fund their liberal utopian vision   oops  North carolina is evil for making billions on tabacco but it’s just fine for olympia typical seattle logic

    • Artthiel

       Jeff, not sure where you’re were going with that one, but it was a fun ride.

  • http://twitter.com/kingwabbit Jeff Shope

    but it’s zoned for stadium use?  scooby snacks?  Since when is seattle car/traffic friendly anyway see tunnel that will handle less traffic than viaduct 20 years from now it’s a seattle “thing” to make car coummuters miserable so why the concern now.  They forget that cars and cigarette smokers fund their liberal utopian vision   oops  North carolina is evil for making billions on tabacco but it’s just fine for olympia typical seattle logic

    • Artthiel

       Jeff, not sure where you’re were going with that one, but it was a fun ride.

  • TrygveSture

    Good information, but…
    How much is Howard proposing the Ms pony up to improve infrastructure to enhance the profitable (team equity-building) use of the stadium they were given by the taxpayers? They were granted a  CivicTrust they are implicitly supposed to respect and  care for, be accountable for — to the taxpayers and even to the game itself.( Grade: F). Howard proposed… Ummm… Nothing, perhaps? Just objections as if the M’s have been wronged?Doesn’t this follow the orchestrated behind the scenes lobbying against the new stadium that was getting no traction with the advisory committee– and two days before they released their findings? Two days before his private bellyaching would be trumped by a pretty carefully considered opinion?  He apparently wasn’t getting his way, nor the cow-towing he seems to think he is owed. This is the guy who chased away the one time-one chance for the team to make it to big stage by calling Lou Pinella “Insubordinate”– as if the M’s  brass wear stripes, bars and stars– or as if all in the organization are a required to follow a rigidly hierarchical, group-identity of Japanese business culture.  The arrogance is as palatable as it is distasteful. Then, he ducks for cover; sends his boy Chuck out to run interference. Did I mention arrogant, tone deaf and operating from a universe so insular and  so divorced from the community at large that he makes the Koch Brothers seem like Planned Parenthood volunteers with 24 hour cell phone availability? Did I mention the arrogant, tone deaf, defiantly unaccountable, corporate-mentality-button-down baseball, military-hierarchy  kind of thing– or his terrible track record as CEO?

    Who didn’t fire this guy, anyway?

    • Artthiel

      You go,  Trygve. Unleash that Norwegian steam power! To answer your last question, it’s the guy who hasn’t seen a Mariners game after 20 years.

  • TrygveSture

    Good information, but…
    How much is Howard proposing the Ms pony up to improve infrastructure to enhance the profitable (team equity-building) use of the stadium they were given by the taxpayers? They were granted a  CivicTrust they are implicitly supposed to respect and  care for, be accountable for — to the taxpayers and even to the game itself.( Grade: F). Howard proposed… Ummm… Nothing, perhaps? Just objections as if the M’s have been wronged?Doesn’t this follow the orchestrated behind the scenes lobbying against the new stadium that was getting no traction with the advisory committee– and two days before they released their findings? Two days before his private bellyaching would be trumped by a pretty carefully considered opinion?  He apparently wasn’t getting his way, nor the cow-towing he seems to think he is owed. This is the guy who chased away the one time-one chance for the team to make it to big stage by calling Lou Pinella “Insubordinate”– as if the M’s  brass wear stripes, bars and stars– or as if all in the organization are a required to follow a rigidly hierarchical, group-identity of Japanese business culture.  The arrogance is as palatable as it is distasteful. Then, he ducks for cover; sends his boy Chuck out to run interference. Did I mention arrogant, tone deaf and operating from a universe so insular and  so divorced from the community at large that he makes the Koch Brothers seem like Planned Parenthood volunteers with 24 hour cell phone availability? Did I mention the arrogant, tone deaf, defiantly unaccountable, corporate-mentality-button-down baseball, military-hierarchy  kind of thing– or his terrible track record as CEO?

    Who didn’t fire this guy, anyway?

    • Artthiel

      You go,  Trygve. Unleash that Norwegian steam power! To answer your last question, it’s the guy who hasn’t seen a Mariners game after 20 years.

  • Jamo57

    Darn it Art!   You’re ruining the picture I have of Howard Lincoln walking out on to Edgar Martinez Way in his bathrobe shouting, ‘Hey you kids, get off of my lawn!’

    The chronicle of events and political decisions you describe sound truely ‘Seattle’.   As to the Mariners and the depleted state of their community goodwill, for me what came immediately to mind when I heard about the letter being released was the heavy handed and draconian way they acted in pushing the legislation through Olympia and then the tantrum they threw when the PFD wasn’t doing their bidding once the project got underway.    The tearful putting the team up for ‘sale’ was the first step in their spending the capital the ’95 team established.  So I guess a little karmic debt is coming due here.

    If the M’s want to rehab their image, particularly the image of the senior management, my humble opinion is for them to get out in front of this and be seen as an entity seeking solutions.   There is no sense of a ‘can-do’ attitude coming out of their offices, just a sense of entitlement expressed by their contant selling of the ’95 and ’01 seasons and being the folks that ‘saved baseball’ in Seattle.   On KJR today, Gas asked a question referencing the fans’ exasperation with a decade of losing and Armstrong responded by citing the success of the the ’01 and ’02 teams.    HELLO!  That was ten years ago, Chuck!   IOWs a decade!!!

    So Howard and Chuck, it’s time to realize it’s time to start making deposits back into your public goodwill accounts.   You’ve been drawing from it for a DECADE!

    • Artthiel

       Well said, Jamo. I like the bathrobe image.
      It’s hard to be a bully after six last-place seasons in the past eight. But they try. By saying the arena “can’t” work as conceived is a door-slammer to cooperation. 
      There is much to be said for public goodwill when it comes to these issues of coexistence. Politicians are swayed, as they were in 1995, by irrational expressions of exuberance or contempt on the part of voters. The Mariners jumped on the side of contempt — even if they have the facts on their side.

      • Jamo57

        LOL, Jerry Brewer agrees with me.   Just read his column which he posted to the Times a couple of hours after I posted the comment above.   Great minds…..I guess.

        There is an opportunity here though, even with the present set up in SoDo with ‘ingress and egress’ (such fancy words Chuck, makes it look like your actually doing something).    I rarely, if ever, drive to any event down in Seattle including SoDo.   The 510 express bus from Everett is just too darn convenient and economical.    And on weekend day games, the Sounder train adds convenience with a very enjoyable and scenic ride.    The opportunity here is for Sound Transit to get the word out about alternative means of  ’ingress and egress’.

        Why don’t the Ms get out in front of that idea and encourage fans to research how to find the express busses from their part of town.  Park and ride parking is free and the bus is $3.50 each way from downtown Everett.   $7 for the game to get from Everett to SoDo.   That’s probably less than the gas, let alone parking on top of it.    C’mon Chuck and Howard, do a TV spot of you two riding a bus or a train!   Show some can-do spirit!   Your know, shared effort to make something work!  

        Or take your usual attitude of complaining and expressing entitlement.   Why not just rebrand the franchise and call the team ‘The Seattle NIMBYs’. 

      • Orogenic

        I don’t think the Mariners have any sort of transportation argument here, considering they create traffic 81 days a year in the area in its current hellish state. They have contributed no money or solutions to the problem that I am aware of.

        I do understand the Port has concerns, which some I agree with. But I still think they need a wake up call regarding their own efficiency. They do need the bypass(es) to take their own self-created pressures off the surrounding communities. This hopefully will largely resolve itself when the transportation projects (including those planned) are finally complete.

        Quite frankly, Jamo is right on. There is no “can-do” or “we will work together” attitude coming from the Mariners. This stance and rhetoric points towards the other reasons and priorities for their rejection stance (i.e. competition).

  • Jamo57

    Darn it Art!   You’re ruining the picture I have of Howard Lincoln walking out on to Edgar Martinez Way in his bathrobe shouting, ‘Hey you kids, get off of my lawn!’

    The chronicle of events and political decisions you describe sound truely ‘Seattle’.   As to the Mariners and the depleted state of their community goodwill, for me what came immediately to mind when I heard about the letter being released was the heavy handed and draconian way they acted in pushing the legislation through Olympia and then the tantrum they threw when the PFD wasn’t doing their bidding once the project got underway.    The tearful putting the team up for ‘sale’ was the first step in their spending the capital the ’95 team established.  At the very least perhaps a little karmic debt is coming due here. At the worst, the letter sounded very hypocritical.

    If the M’s want to rehab their image, particularly the image of the senior management, my humble opinion is for them to get out in front of this and be seen as an entity seeking solutions.   There is no sense of a ‘can-do’ attitude coming out of their offices, just a sense of entitlement expressed by their contant selling of the ’95 and ’01 seasons and being the folks that ‘saved baseball’ in Seattle.   On KJR today, Gas asked a question referencing the fans’ exasperation with a decade of losing and Armstrong responded by citing the success of the the ’01 and ’02 teams.    HELLO!  That was ten years ago, Chuck!   IOWs a decade!!!

    So Howard and Chuck, it’s time to realize it’s time to start making deposits back into your public goodwill accounts.   You’ve been drawing from it for a DECADE!

    • Artthiel

       Well said, Jamo. I like the bathrobe image.
      It’s hard to be a bully after six last-place seasons in the past eight. But they try. By saying the arena “can’t” work as conceived is a door-slammer to cooperation. 
      There is much to be said for public goodwill when it comes to these issues of coexistence. Politicians are swayed, as they were in 1995, by irrational expressions of exuberance or contempt on the part of voters. The Mariners jumped on the side of contempt — even if they have the facts on their side.

      • Jamo57

        LOL, Jerry Brewer agrees with me.   Just read his column which he posted to the Times a couple of hours after I posted the comment above.   Great minds…..I guess.

        There is an opportunity here though, even with the present set up in SoDo with ‘ingress and egress’ (such fancy words Chuck, makes it look like your actually doing something).    I rarely, if ever, drive to any event down in Seattle including SoDo.   The 510 express bus from Everett is just too darn convenient and economical.    And on weekend day games, the Sounder train adds convenience with a very enjoyable and scenic ride.    The opportunity here is for Sound Transit to get the word out about alternative means of  ’ingress and egress’.

        Why don’t the Ms get out in front of that idea and encourage fans to research how to find the express busses from their part of town.  Park and ride parking is free and the bus is $3.50 each way from downtown Everett.   $7 for the game to get from Everett to SoDo.   That’s probably less than the gas, let alone parking on top of it.    C’mon Chuck and Howard, do a TV spot of you two riding a bus or a train!   Show some can-do spirit!   Your know, shared effort to make something work!  

        Or take your usual attitude of complaining and expressing entitlement.   Why not just rebrand the franchise and call the team ‘The Seattle NIMBYs’. 

      • Orogenic

        I don’t think the Mariners have any sort of transportation argument here, considering they create traffic 81 days a year in the area in its current hellish state. They have contributed no money or solutions to the problem that I am aware of.

        I do understand the Port has concerns, which some I agree with. But I still think they need a wake up call regarding their own efficiency. They do need the bypass(es) to take their own self-created pressures off the surrounding communities. This hopefully will largely resolve itself when the transportation projects (including those planned) are finally complete.

        Quite frankly, Jamo is right on. There is no “can-do” or “we will work together” attitude coming from the Mariners. This stance and rhetoric points towards the other reasons and priorities for their rejection stance (i.e. competition).

  • Grover

    Art Thiel getting snowed by Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong. lol

    The M’s would be sure to get the same sort of agreement with the new arena that they have now with CenturyLink Field:  the new arena would not be allowed to schedule events which would interfere with either M’s or Sounders or Seahawks games.  So, there would never be major events at the new arena and Safeco Field at the same time, just as there are never Sounders or Seahawks games at the same time as Mariners games.  Any event at one stadium can not start less than three hours after the end of an event at another stadium.  Therefore, traffic would not be any worse for M’s games than it is now.  The traffic complaint is a red herring, which Thiel fell for, hook line and sinker.

    The real issue is that having NBA and NHL teams in Seattle would take luxury suite, club seat, in-stadium advertising, and season ticket sales away from the M’s.  There is not enough corporate money, or private money to support six major franchises in Seattle successfully.  When there were only 3 major sports teams here — Seahawks, Sonics and Mariners (the Huskies were in the old stadium with no premium seating to speak of) – they were never able to sell all the luxury suites for all three teams.  Now, with the Sounders drawing more fans than the Sonics did, and adding a new arena with both NBA and NHL teams having about 80 luxury suites to lease, plus new Husky Stadium with 25 luxury suites and 25 loge boxes to sell, and a few thousand club seats, as well, there would be more than twice as many luxury suites for sale in our area as there were the last season the Sonics played in Seattle.  The M’s know that would make it much harder than it is now to find companies to buy the luxury suites and club seats at Safeco Field.  And it would really hurt the M’s revenues.

    Try to be a little more sophisticated, Art.  Yes, the traffic around the stadiums stinks.  But the new arena would not be allowed to schedule events at the same time as M’s games, so the new arena would not make traffic for M’s games any worse than it is now.  The Lander Street overpass is a much bigger deal to the port than it is to the stadiums.  There aren’t that many trains crossing Lander Street at the time of night when pro sports games end.  And I don’t think there are too large a percentage of sports fans who would use Lander Street when coming to an event at one of the stadiums, when there is a better chance of trains to block Lander.  And, those Sounder Commuter trains are really short trains, anyway.

    Art, why don’t you find out how many of the luxury suites and club seats at Safeco Field the M’s have sold the past few seasons?  Maybe that will be a clue for you.

    • sportspressnw

      Grover,

      In regards to your comment about Art looking into luxury suites at Safeco, you might be interested in reading his recent piece for Puget Sound Business Journal: http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/print-edition/2012/03/30/major-marketing-challenge-has-mariners.html.  It is behind a paywall, so I will share a snippet:

      “The marketing effort appears to be paying off, according to Frances Traisman, the club’s vice president of sales, in at least in one vital area — suite sales. Multi-game packages (10, 20, 40 and 82-game packages) are up over 2011 numbers, and represent a slight majority of available suites.”As always, thanks for being a reader of our site, and for participating in these discussions. 

      • Guest

        Could the suite sales at Safeco have gone down any further? There is a point where things hit rock bottom, right?

        • Artthiel

          Of course the suites sales can hit theoretical zero, as was nearly the case with the Sonics as play declined during the Schultz junta. As much as people claim to love the Sonics, the drop in suite sales, which retired the remodel debt, is the biggest reason Schultz panicked and sold. Guess what his big complain was? None of the rich folk on the Eastside, which were the majority of season ticket buyers and suite holders, wanted to deal with the Mercer mess on a rainy January school night.  And now, guess what’s getting fixed — way too late.

      • Grover

        So the M’s have almost half the luxury suites UNsold for 2012?  And that is without any NBA or NHL teams here, and before new Husky Stadium opens?

        Are you saying that you think selling a “slight majority of available suites” is a “success”?

        • Artthiel

           The suites not under multi-year contracts are sold game by game, and they sell most but not all, and would not provide specific figures. Tthe decline is obviously because of poor baseball results, not traffic, a point I think the column made, which is why Lincoln and Armstrong lack cred when they complain. Doesn’t change the fact that the city acknowledged the need for the overpass 10 years ago, then took away the money.

          • Grover

            I admit I only go to a couple of M’s home games per year, but the games I have gone to, it sure looked like at least half the luxury suites were empty, with the lights not even turned on.

            Even on tv, it’s pretty easy to tell that a great many of the suites are not being used at many M’s home games.

            And the club seats, including the “Diamond Club” seats, have a lot of fans impersonating empty seats at most games, also.

            Next time you go to a game this season — not counting Opening Night — go walk out in the outfield bleachers where you can get a good look at all the luxury suites, and count how many don’t even have the lights on in them.

      • Grover

        I thought I replied to this already, but that post does not seem to be here.

        So, the M’s have sold only a little more than half the luxury suites in Safeco Field?  Don’t you think that is pretty pathetic?  And that is without competition from the New Husky Stadium, or a new arena.  Don’t you expect that some of the people who now buy suites at Safeco Field will give them up and instead buy the new suites at New Husky Stadium?  And, if a new arena were built, don’t you think some of the people who now buy suites at Safeco Field would give them up to buy suites in the new arena, instead?

        That is what happened to the Sonics when Safeco Field and Qwest Field opened — companies who had been buying suites at KeyArena gave them up to buy suites in the new stadiums, instead.

    • Artthiel

      Grover, I’m surprised. You’re usually smarter than this. Chuck and Howard will not agree that they snowed me. The facts of the Lander project abandonment are on their side. And I’ve previously written about the potential arrival of NBA and NHL means one team in town becomes the sixth ticket (including UW fb), which could be the M’s. But suites sales and ticket sales are secondary to media rights, which would be enhanced if Seattle became a full menu sports town.
      As far as scheduling, check out Saturday, April 14. Sounders start 1p, Mariners at 6p. Some sweet deal that is for Mariners fans.
      And if you read the entire column, you would see that it’s the other 120 event dates for the proposed arena are a far bigger deal for the Mariners.
      And you have no idea how many fans would or would not use a Lander overpass THAT AVOIDS THE TRAINS, particularly after the tunnel’s tolls push traffic onto surface streets.
      I don’t mind disagreement at all. But I appreciate when readers read the whole column before writing. Try to be a little more sophisticated, Grover.  

      • Guest

        Interesting…so is your argument that Sounders fans and Mariners fans are two separate groups of people. Would you argue that if the Mariners were a hot ticket that a large group of Sounders fans wouldn’t also be planning to attend the Mariners game?

        Finally…are you going to argue that on that day there will be more cars then the number of people who attend Seahawks games? The answer of course is no…

        Finally x2…I think most of us read the article we just don’t believe that traffic bothers the Mariners like you claim so using the “other events” as an excuse is just another way for them to try (they think) to be supportive to sports fans (you know the ones who are buying their tickets) but block this…

        • Artthiel

           Indeed, the Sounders make the argument, based on surveys of their customers, that most of their fans are serious about soccer and much less so about other Seattle sports teams. There has so far been little marketing attempts to draw the casual fan or non-soccer fan. Sure there’s some crossover, but most sports business people in Seattle see the most of the Sounders popularity as largely unique to adherents.

          The Seahawks attendees are on Sunday, except for the every-five-years Monday or Thursday night game.

          The Mariners may overstate traffic’s impact, but there is no doubt that the city cut off late evening bus service from the Third Ave station in 2009, there is no doubt that the city abandoned the Lander St overpass in 2008 and I’ll take the Mariners at their word they have lost about 3,000 parking spaces from the lot across the street, the Kingdome north lot and from under the disappearing viaduct.

          Or haven’t you been downtown lately, guest?

          • Grover

            “The Mariners may overstate traffic’s impact, but there is no doubt that the city cut off late evening bus service from the Third Ave station in 2009, there is no doubt that the city abandoned the Lander St overpass in 2008 and I’ll take the Mariners at their word they have lost about 3,000 parking spaces from the lot across the street, the Kingdome north lot and from under the disappearing viaduct.”
            And what does any of that have to do with a new arena?  All those things have already happened, withOUT a new arena.  So, what does a new arena have to do with any of that?

            And, all the people I know who attend Sounders games, also attend M’s games, and most of them also attend either Storm, Seahawks or Husky football games as well.  And a majority of those people used to buy partial season tickets for the M’s, but now go to fewer M’s games and instead spend that money on Sounders tickets.

      • Grover

        Wow.  You truly buy the M’s B.S., Art?

        Sounders games last 2 hours.  They are not football or baseball 2-hour plus games.  That means a 1pm Sounders game ends at 3 pm — 3 hours before the M’s game starts.  How many M’s fans do you know who plan to arrive at Safeco Field 3 hours before the scheduled start (which is at 6:10, by the way, not 6:00)?  This scheduling has been done before, and it is no big deal to either team.  You think anyone is avoiding buying tickets to that M’s game because of the Sounders game earlier that day?  Really?  lol  That is a complete non-factor.  No M’s fan will even give it any consideration.

        I read your entire column.  You took the M’s at face value, which means they sold you a bill of goods.  The other 120 events at the new arena would also have to be scheduled with at least 3 hours between the end of one event and the beginning of the other.  That would not cause traffic or parking conflicts between the two groups of fans.

        The Lander Street overpass would have virtually no affect on traffic to or from events at the stadiums.  It would however greatly help the port which has truck traffic all day long, when there are a lot of long trains crossing Lander Street.

        Your column is sad.  Traffic is not the reason the M’s oppose a new arena.

        How about addressing the real reason — more competition for luxury suites, club seats, season tickets, et. al.?  Too much work for you to do the research on that?

  • Grover

    Art Thiel getting snowed by Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong. lol

    The M’s would be sure to get the same sort of agreement with the new arena that they have now with CenturyLink Field:  the new arena would not be allowed to schedule events which would interfere with either M’s or Sounders or Seahawks games.  So, there would never be major events at the new arena and Safeco Field at the same time, just as there are never Sounders or Seahawks games at the same time as Mariners games.  Any event at one stadium can not start less than three hours after the end of an event at another stadium.  Therefore, traffic would not be any worse for M’s games than it is now.  The traffic complaint is a red herring, which Thiel fell for, hook line and sinker.

    The real issue is that having NBA and NHL teams in Seattle would take luxury suite, club seat, in-stadium advertising, and season ticket sales away from the M’s.  There is not enough corporate money, or private money to support six major franchises in Seattle successfully.  When there were only 3 major sports teams here — Seahawks, Sonics and Mariners (the Huskies were in the old stadium with no premium seating to speak of) – they were never able to sell all the luxury suites for all three teams.  Now, with the Sounders drawing more fans than the Sonics did, and adding a new arena with both NBA and NHL teams having about 80 luxury suites to lease, plus new Husky Stadium with 25 luxury suites and 25 loge boxes to sell, and a few thousand club seats, as well, there would be more than twice as many luxury suites for sale in our area as there were the last season the Sonics played in Seattle.  The M’s know that would make it much harder than it is now to find companies to buy the luxury suites and club seats at Safeco Field.  And it would really hurt the M’s revenues.

    Try to be a little more sophisticated, Art.  Yes, the traffic around the stadiums stinks.  But the new arena would not be allowed to schedule events at the same time as M’s games, so the new arena would not make traffic for M’s games any worse than it is now.  The Lander Street overpass is a much bigger deal to the port than it is to the stadiums.  There aren’t that many trains crossing Lander Street at the time of night when pro sports games end.  And I don’t think there are too large a percentage of sports fans who would use Lander Street when coming to an event at one of the stadiums, when there is a better chance of trains to block Lander.  And, those Sounder Commuter trains are really short trains, anyway.

    Art, why don’t you find out how many of the luxury suites and club seats at Safeco Field the M’s have sold the past few seasons?  Maybe that will be a clue for you.

    • sportspressnw

      Grover,

      In regards to your comment about Art looking into luxury suites at Safeco, you might be interested in reading his recent piece for Puget Sound Business Journal: http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/print-edition/2012/03/30/major-marketing-challenge-has-mariners.html.  It is behind a paywall, so I will share a snippet:

      “The marketing effort appears to be paying off, according to Frances Traisman, the club’s vice president of sales, in at least in one vital area — suite sales. Multi-game packages (10, 20, 40 and 82-game packages) are up over 2011 numbers, and represent a slight majority of available suites.”

      As always, thanks for being a reader of our site, and for participating in these discussions.

      • Guest

        Could the suite sales at Safeco have gone down any further? There is a point where things hit rock bottom, right?

        • Artthiel

          Of course the suites sales can hit theoretical zero, as was nearly the case with the Sonics as play declined during the Schultz junta. As much as people claim to love the Sonics, the drop in suite sales, which retired the remodel debt, is the biggest reason Schultz panicked and sold. Guess what his big complain was? None of the rich folk on the Eastside, which were the majority of season ticket buyers and suite holders, wanted to deal with the Mercer mess on a rainy January school night.  And now, guess what’s getting fixed — way too late.

      • Grover

        So the M’s have almost half the luxury suites UNsold for 2012?  And that is without any NBA or NHL teams here, and before new Husky Stadium opens?

        Are you saying that you think selling a “slight majority of available suites” is a “success”?

        • Artthiel

           The suites not under multi-year contracts are sold game by game, and they sell most but not all, and would not provide specific figures. Tthe decline is obviously because of poor baseball results, not traffic, a point I think the column made, which is why Lincoln and Armstrong lack cred when they complain. Doesn’t change the fact that the city acknowledged the need for the overpass 10 years ago, then took away the money.

          • Grover

            I admit I only go to a couple of M’s home games per year, but the games I have gone to, it sure looked like at least half the luxury suites were empty, with the lights not even turned on.

            Even on tv, it’s pretty easy to tell that a great many of the suites are not being used at many M’s home games.

            And the club seats, including the “Diamond Club” seats, have a lot of fans impersonating empty seats at most games, also.

            Next time you go to a game this season — not counting Opening Night — go walk out in the outfield bleachers where you can get a good look at all the luxury suites, and count how many don’t even have the lights on in them.

      • Grover

        I thought I replied to this already, but that post does not seem to be here.

        So, the M’s have sold only a little more than half the luxury suites in Safeco Field?  Don’t you think that is pretty pathetic?  And that is without competition from the New Husky Stadium, or a new arena.  Don’t you expect that some of the people who now buy suites at Safeco Field will give them up and instead buy the new suites at New Husky Stadium?  And, if a new arena were built, don’t you think some of the people who now buy suites at Safeco Field would give them up to buy suites in the new arena, instead?

        That is what happened to the Sonics when Safeco Field and Qwest Field opened — companies who had been buying suites at KeyArena gave them up to buy suites in the new stadiums, instead.

    • Artthiel

      Grover, I’m surprised. You’re usually smarter than this. Chuck and Howard will not agree that they snowed me. The facts of the Lander project abandonment are on their side. And I’ve previously written about the potential arrival of NBA and NHL means one team in town becomes the sixth ticket (including UW fb), which could be the M’s. But suites sales and ticket sales are secondary to media rights, which would be enhanced if Seattle became a full menu sports town.
      As far as scheduling, check out Saturday, April 14. Sounders start 1p, Mariners at 6p. Some sweet deal that is for Mariners fans.
      And if you read the entire column, you would see that it’s the other 120 event dates for the proposed arena are a far bigger deal for the Mariners.
      And you have no idea how many fans would or would not use a Lander overpass THAT AVOIDS THE TRAINS, particularly after the tunnel’s tolls push traffic onto surface streets.
      I don’t mind disagreement at all. But I appreciate when readers read the whole column before writing. Try to be a little more sophisticated, Grover.  

      • Guest

        Interesting…so is your argument that Sounders fans and Mariners fans are two separate groups of people. Would you argue that if the Mariners were a hot ticket that a large group of Sounders fans wouldn’t also be planning to attend the Mariners game?

        Finally…are you going to argue that on that day there will be more cars then the number of people who attend Seahawks games? The answer of course is no…

        Finally x2…I think most of us read the article we just don’t believe that traffic bothers the Mariners like you claim so using the “other events” as an excuse is just another way for them to try (they think) to be supportive to sports fans (you know the ones who are buying their tickets) but block this…

        • Artthiel

           Indeed, the Sounders make the argument, based on surveys of their customers, that most of their fans are serious about soccer and much less so about other Seattle sports teams. There has so far been little marketing attempts to draw the casual fan or non-soccer fan. Sure there’s some crossover, but most sports business people in Seattle see the most of the Sounders popularity as largely unique to adherents.

          The Seahawks attendees are on Sunday, except for the every-five-years Monday or Thursday night game.

          The Mariners may overstate traffic’s impact, but there is no doubt that the city cut off late evening bus service from the Third Ave station in 2009, there is no doubt that the city abandoned the Lander St overpass in 2008 and I’ll take the Mariners at their word they have lost about 3,000 parking spaces from the lot across the street, the Kingdome north lot and from under the disappearing viaduct.

          Or haven’t you been downtown lately, guest?

          • Grover

            “The Mariners may overstate traffic’s impact, but there is no doubt that the city cut off late evening bus service from the Third Ave station in 2009, there is no doubt that the city abandoned the Lander St overpass in 2008 and I’ll take the Mariners at their word they have lost about 3,000 parking spaces from the lot across the street, the Kingdome north lot and from under the disappearing viaduct.”
            And what does any of that have to do with a new arena?  All those things have already happened, withOUT a new arena.  So, what does a new arena have to do with any of that?

            And, all the people I know who attend Sounders games, also attend M’s games, and most of them also attend either Storm, Seahawks or Husky football games as well.  And a majority of those people used to buy partial season tickets for the M’s, but now go to fewer M’s games and instead spend that money on Sounders tickets.

      • Grover

        Wow.  You truly buy the M’s B.S., Art?

        Sounders games last 2 hours.  They are not football or baseball 2-hour plus games.  That means a 1pm Sounders game ends at 3 pm — 3 hours before the M’s game starts.  How many M’s fans do you know who plan to arrive at Safeco Field 3 hours before the scheduled start (which is at 6:10, by the way, not 6:00)?  This scheduling has been done before, and it is no big deal to either team.  You think anyone is avoiding buying tickets to that M’s game because of the Sounders game earlier that day?  Really?  lol  That is a complete non-factor.  No M’s fan will even give it any consideration.

        I read your entire column.  You took the M’s at face value, which means they sold you a bill of goods.  The other 120 events at the new arena would also have to be scheduled with at least 3 hours between the end of one event and the beginning of the other.  That would not cause traffic or parking conflicts between the two groups of fans.

        The Lander Street overpass would have virtually no affect on traffic to or from events at the stadiums.  It would however greatly help the port which has truck traffic all day long, when there are a lot of long trains crossing Lander Street.

        Your column is sad.  Traffic is not the reason the M’s oppose a new arena.

        How about addressing the real reason — more competition for luxury suites, club seats, season tickets, et. al.?  Too much work for you to do the research on that?

  • Grover

    By the way, what really screws up traffic going to stadium events on Lander Street is Link light rail, with two trains every 7.5 minutes (one in each direction) during the pm peak (3:30 to 6:30), when lots of people are arriving for the games.  And the Lander Street overpass would not go over the Link train tracks, so it would not solve that problem whatsoever.

  • Grover

    By the way, what really screws up traffic going to stadium events on Lander Street is Link light rail, with two trains every 7.5 minutes (one in each direction) during the pm peak (3:30 to 6:30), when lots of people are arriving for the games.  And the Lander Street overpass would not go over the Link train tracks, so it would not solve that problem whatsoever.

  • Loyal Mariners Fan

    The reason the money got diverted to the Mercer Project is because Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc.
    lined the mayor’s and city council members’ pockets with campaign contributions to move the tax dollars accordingly.   A handsome investment for Vuldan:  A few thousand in campaign contributions in return for many millions in tax dollars bnefiting the Mercer Project, done to Vulcan specifictions
    (and without easing traffic congrestion one bit).

  • Loyal Mariners Fan

    The reason the money got diverted to the Mercer Project is because Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc.
    lined the mayor’s and city council members’ pockets with campaign contributions to move the tax dollars accordingly.   A handsome investment for Vuldan:  A few thousand in campaign contributions in return for many millions in tax dollars bnefiting the Mercer Project, done to Vulcan specifictions
    (and without easing traffic congrestion one bit).

  • Artthiel

    Loyal, that may be true, but beyond the scope of our little discussion here. Such dealings are, of course, a time-honored tradition in most cities where major employers dictate changes, upgrades and improvements to suit their enterprises. Remember the Nordy garage?

     

    • Guest

      Wait…if traffic was really impacting the Mariners as much as they claim doesn’t that mean they could just do the same thing that Vulcan did? It is almost as if they haven’t cared how things were until they had new competitors moving into town…

  • Artthiel

    Loyal, that may be true, but beyond the scope of our little discussion here. Such dealings are, of course, a time-honored tradition in most cities where major employers dictate changes, upgrades and improvements to suit their enterprises. Remember the Nordy garage?

     

    • Guest

      Wait…if traffic was really impacting the Mariners as much as they claim doesn’t that mean they could just do the same thing that Vulcan did? It is almost as if they haven’t cared how things were until they had new competitors moving into town…

  • Guest

    Hey Grover,
    Let’s take a look at your example of spacing the sporting events out….  So now there is chaos in SODO not just for 3-4 hours at night, but for an ENTIRE DAY.  Do you understand what that will do to the industry down there?!  I really don’t think you get it.  Everyone here in Seattle, including those who are expressing concerns with this new arena proposal, is a sports fan and would love to see the NBA return and the possibility of an NHL team.  But when you start to really challenge the core line of business that has been supporting this city for DECADES, everyone should slow down and step the f*** back.  When not just the Mariners but the ENTIRE SODO area has serious concerns with this arena proposal, the facts should be brought to light.  I think Art did an excellent job with the article because he is one of the first reporters who hasn’t been lazy and decided to actually go around talking with people and dig deeper into the situation.  Just wait until tomorrow…. I have a feeling that there will be more groups going public with their opposition to the arena.  And yes, these groups have way more influence than the Mariners.

    • Guest

      That district handles 66k multiple times a year and survives. There would never be that many on a weekday during working hours…so how is this legit? 

      Do people think that the NBA is going to start playing afternoon games on weekdays? In fact, the only team that likes to play events during work hours is none other then your Mariners…

      • Guest

         “The sports teams are the least of our concerns,” he said. “To make an
        arena work, it probably needs 200 event dates. It’s all the concerts,
        flat shows and conventions that concern us.”

        • Grover

          Again, those events would be scheduled to NOT conflict with other events.

          • Artthiel

             It is the city that limited the Mariners to six day games to reduce the daytime traffic problems. And if indeed the arena will require 200 event days to break even — the Kingdome had up 240 event days booked — it is impossible not to have numerous potential conflicts with 81 Mariners games from April-Sept.

          • Grover

            Events separated by three hours do not “conflict” with each other.  Any events on the same day would have to have at least three hours between the end of the first event and the start of the second.  How would they “conflict” with each other?

            This would certainly create more traffic problems for the Port.  But, separating events by at least 3 hours would not cause traffic or parking problems for the events.

            Aren’t you aware that Sounders and M’s have had events on the same day?  Are you claiming that that caused problems for either event?  If that is your claim, how about substantiating it?  How did having two events on the same day hurt attendance at either event?  Show us some facts, please, like attendance numbers for both events on days when 2 events were held on the same day.  Otherwise, this is just unsubstantiated nonsense.

    • Grover

      The Port has very legitimate concerns about traffic.  The Mariners do not.  Traffic won’t be any worse for M’s games than it is now, because there won’t be events scheduled at any two venues at the same time, since that would hurt both events, so nobody would want to do that.

  • Guest

    Hey Grover,
    Let’s take a look at your example of spacing the sporting events out….  So now there is chaos in SODO not just for 3-4 hours at night, but for an ENTIRE DAY.  Do you understand what that will do to the industry down there?!  I really don’t think you get it.  Everyone here in Seattle, including those who are expressing concerns with this new arena proposal, is a sports fan and would love to see the NBA return and the possibility of an NHL team.  But when you start to really challenge the core line of business that has been supporting this city for DECADES, everyone should slow down and step the f*** back.  When not just the Mariners but the ENTIRE SODO area has serious concerns with this arena proposal, the facts should be brought to light.  I think Art did an excellent job with the article because he is one of the first reporters who hasn’t been lazy and decided to actually go around talking with people and dig deeper into the situation.  Just wait until tomorrow…. I have a feeling that there will be more groups going public with their opposition to the arena.  And yes, these groups have way more influence than the Mariners.

    • Guest

      That district handles 66k multiple times a year and survives. There would never be that many on a weekday during working hours…so how is this legit? 

      Do people think that the NBA is going to start playing afternoon games on weekdays? In fact, the only team that likes to play events during work hours is none other then your Mariners…

      • Guest

         “The sports teams are the least of our concerns,” he said. “To make an
        arena work, it probably needs 200 event dates. It’s all the concerts,
        flat shows and conventions that concern us.”

        • Grover

          Again, those events would be scheduled to NOT conflict with other events.

          • Artthiel

             It is the city that limited the Mariners to six day games to reduce the daytime traffic problems. And if indeed the arena will require 200 event days to break even — the Kingdome had up 240 event days booked — it is impossible not to have numerous potential conflicts with 81 Mariners games from April-Sept.

          • Grover

            Events separated by three hours do not “conflict” with each other.  Any events on the same day would have to have at least three hours between the end of the first event and the start of the second.  How would they “conflict” with each other?

            This would certainly create more traffic problems for the Port.  But, separating events by at least 3 hours would not cause traffic or parking problems for the events.

            Aren’t you aware that Sounders and M’s have had events on the same day?  Are you claiming that that caused problems for either event?  If that is your claim, how about substantiating it?  How did having two events on the same day hurt attendance at either event?  Show us some facts, please, like attendance numbers for both events on days when 2 events were held on the same day.  Otherwise, this is just unsubstantiated nonsense.

    • Grover

      The Port has very legitimate concerns about traffic.  The Mariners do not.  Traffic won’t be any worse for M’s games than it is now, because there won’t be events scheduled at any two venues at the same time, since that would hurt both events, so nobody would want to do that.

  • Guest

    Sorry…but if traffic was as big of a deal to the Mariners as you are trying to claim then why were they not publicly complaining when the project you use as your reasoning was stopped? Why haven’t they been pressuring the government to build what was promised?

    The reason why: because the Mariners know that traffic doesn’t effect them

    PS: You are basically calling your readers stupid by just assuming that the only reason people are calling out the Mariners is because they aren’t very good. Any person with a brain can see that there is at least a very reasonable argument that they don’t want competition (did they say ONE WORD when the Sonics were getting ready to leave?)…even if the Mariners are being genuine…the argument is logical enough that the team doesn’t need to suck for a rational person to see it. 

    • Artthiel

       I don’t doubt for a minute that the Mariners are worried about too many teams in a marketplace. But most fans would agree the best way to avoid the problem is to be the best entertainment in the market. Instead, the Mariners are burning up goodwill and political capital on an issue secondary to championship baseball, which has been a persistent characteristic of this ownership. My emphasizing the M’s lack of credibility because of baseball failure is not calling readers stupid. The complaint by fans may not address the legitimacy of the traffic issue, but it does speak to the regard in which the franchise is held, which is a big damn deal because this argument will largely be won or lost in the court of public opinion, which is the place where politicians’ careers live and die.

  • Guest

    Sorry…but if traffic was as big of a deal to the Mariners as you are trying to claim then why were they not publicly complaining when the project you use as your reasoning was stopped? Why haven’t they been pressuring the government to build what was promised?

    The reason why: because the Mariners know that traffic doesn’t effect them

    PS: You are basically calling your readers stupid by just assuming that the only reason people are calling out the Mariners is because they aren’t very good. Any person with a brain can see that there is at least a very reasonable argument that they don’t want competition (did they say ONE WORD when the Sonics were getting ready to leave?)…even if the Mariners are being genuine…the argument is logical enough that the team doesn’t need to suck for a rational person to see it. 

    • Artthiel

       I don’t doubt for a minute that the Mariners are worried about too many teams in a marketplace. But most fans would agree the best way to avoid the problem is to be the best entertainment in the market. Instead, the Mariners are burning up goodwill and political capital on an issue secondary to championship baseball, which has been a persistent characteristic of this ownership. My emphasizing the M’s lack of credibility because of baseball failure is not calling readers stupid. The complaint by fans may not address the legitimacy of the traffic issue, but it does speak to the regard in which the franchise is held, which is a big damn deal because this argument will largely be won or lost in the court of public opinion, which is the place where politicians’ careers live and die.

  • RadioGuy

    Excellent piece, Art.  I’d not even thought about the road improvements that’ll be needed for what will be a traffic nightmare in SoDo on game days when two events are going on simultaneously.  Who WILL pay for them, if they come to pass?  It’s pretty easy to predict it WON’T be Chris Hansen and his anonymous friends.

    This is all going to be a lot more expensive than anyone wants to think.  No way does the new arena get done for ”only” $500 million…not even close.  It’ll be at least $750 million when it’s finished unless Hansen & Co. agree to pay for cost overruns.

    • Guest

      They have agreed to cost overruns (you know something the Mariners tried to get out having to pay)…funny that you aren’t holding the Mariners accountable for building the infrastructure they claim is the single biggest reason that fans don’t go to games any more… 

      • RadioGuy

        Hansen’s group has agreed to pay for the overruns?  Great.  And, just for you, I’ll say this:  “The Mariners should be accountable for building the infrastructure they claim is the single biggest reason that fans don’t go to games any more…”

        Happy now?

    • Artthiel

       Hansen was evasive in his press conference Thursday,  unwilling to say which party will pay for what. At the moment, no one is sure, because until the traffic study is done, no one can say what’s needed for the fix.  The public portion is capped at $200M. But is an overpass at Lander part of the project or part of neighborhood improvement. That’s where it gets slippery. 

  • RadioGuy

    Excellent piece, Art.  I’d not even thought about the road improvements that’ll be needed for what will be a traffic nightmare in SoDo on game days when two events are going on simultaneously.  Who WILL pay for them, if they come to pass?  It’s pretty easy to predict it WON’T be Chris Hansen and his anonymous friends.

    This is all going to be a lot more expensive than anyone wants to think.  No way does the new arena get done for ”only” $500 million…not even close.  It’ll be at least $750 million when it’s finished unless Hansen & Co. agree to pay for cost overruns.

    • Guest

      They have agreed to cost overruns (you know something the Mariners tried to get out having to pay)…funny that you aren’t holding the Mariners accountable for building the infrastructure they claim is the single biggest reason that fans don’t go to games any more… 

      • RadioGuy

        Hansen’s group has agreed to pay for the overruns?  Great.  And, just for you, I’ll say this:  “The Mariners should be accountable for building the infrastructure they claim is the single biggest reason that fans don’t go to games any more…”

        Happy now?

    • Artthiel

       Hansen was evasive in his press conference Thursday,  unwilling to say which party will pay for what. At the moment, no one is sure, because until the traffic study is done, no one can say what’s needed for the fix.  The public portion is capped at $200M. But is an overpass at Lander part of the project or part of neighborhood improvement. That’s where it gets slippery. 

  • hb2p

    I was prepared to jump all over the M’s.  As many have said, their credibility is not the highest in town.  But that lost credibility is about running a baseball team, not other issues.

    After reading the M’s letter and hearing both radio interviews I believe the M’s viewpoint is justifiable.  82 dates for baseball, 10 football dates, 20+ soccer dates, another 80+ for both basketball and hockey and then the other events the arena would need to keep it sustainable would make for problems.  This would probably be around 300 events in the SODO area.

    I would love to see an arena in that area – but we need to make sure we all can get in and out of it – including those that need that for their livelihoods.

  • hb2p

    I was prepared to jump all over the M’s.  As many have said, their credibility is not the highest in town.  But that lost credibility is about running a baseball team, not other issues.

    After reading the M’s letter and hearing both radio interviews I believe the M’s viewpoint is justifiable.  82 dates for baseball, 10 football dates, 20+ soccer dates, another 80+ for both basketball and hockey and then the other events the arena would need to keep it sustainable would make for problems.  This would probably be around 300 events in the SODO area.

    I would love to see an arena in that area – but we need to make sure we all can get in and out of it – including those that need that for their livelihoods.

  • WestCoastBias79

    The Mariners have a point, the infrastructure doesn’t fully support another arena, and Seattle city planners are probably some of the most hostile to the car of any city in North America.  That said, the M’s aren’t the ones to pick this fight.  Their inability to do anything right is astonishing.  They should have left it to the port people and the businesses that really bring in the cash at SoDo.  Bringing this up, when the Seahawks and Sounders were smart enough to shut up, just proves how out of touch these people are.  Anyone with any foresight would have seen what this would look like to the average fan, and that’s not even taking into account that your average fan is not entirely logical when it comes to sporting matters–me included, I analytically agree with them, and at the same time, am completely furious that they had the moxy to oppose a ray of light in an otherwise bleak Seattle sporting world.  I would trade them in a heartbeat to OKC right now for the Sonics if that was an option even knowing the MLB is a better ticket than the NBA. 

    Best case, new stadium with better access for all involved.  That’s what they should be pushing for publicly, not trying to squash growth.

  • WestCoastBias79

    The Mariners have a point, the infrastructure doesn’t fully support another arena, and Seattle city planners are probably some of the most hostile to the car of any city in North America.  That said, the M’s aren’t the ones to pick this fight.  Their inability to do anything right is astonishing.  They should have left it to the port people and the businesses that really bring in the cash at SoDo.  Bringing this up, when the Seahawks and Sounders were smart enough to shut up, just proves how out of touch these people are.  Anyone with any foresight would have seen what this would look like to the average fan, and that’s not even taking into account that your average fan is not entirely logical when it comes to sporting matters–me included, I analytically agree with them, and at the same time, am completely furious that they had the moxy to oppose a ray of light in an otherwise bleak Seattle sporting world.  I would trade them in a heartbeat to OKC right now for the Sonics if that was an option even knowing the MLB is a better ticket than the NBA. 

    Best case, new stadium with better access for all involved.  That’s what they should be pushing for publicly, not trying to squash growth.

  • Soggyblogger

    You have courage, Art. Thanks for the explanation. If only all journalists would do their jobs instead of doing the bidding of a hedge fund manager and his buddies. 

    • Artthiel

       Thanks, soggy. All of us need to keep in mind how layered and complicated is this project, given Seattle’s sports history and topography combined with its immense private wealth and impoverished municipal government. 

  • Soggyblogger

    You have courage, Art. Thanks for the explanation. If only all journalists would do their jobs instead of doing the bidding of a hedge fund manager and his buddies. 

    • Artthiel

       Thanks, soggy. All of us need to keep in mind how layered and complicated is this project, given Seattle’s sports history and topography combined with its immense private wealth and impoverished municipal government. 

  • fred117

    Howard Lincoln raises a good point about traffic in the area.  Anyone who’s been around the stadiums since the construction of Safeco Field can attest that the traffic is terrible and been getting worse since the viaduct removal.  The myopic closing of Royal Brougham/Atlantic St with a literal corkscrew of a road had almost everyone scratching their heads.  The fact that the city has diverted planned investment elsewhere is incredibly shortsighted.  The problem will only get worse once the new Tunnel is in place and everyone driving up 99 is going to get off there to avoid the toll.

    But, my God, does anyone else with the Mariners consult with Howard Lincoln before he opens his mouth?  He could have easily worded his concern with the situation by pointing at the traffic concerns without saying the arena location was wrong.  And his desire to review other sites for the venue is really irrelevant considering the situation.

    Of course, Safeco Field was built after careful study and lots of public input – it was built by the public.  The Mariners paid for the roof and took responsibility for any cost overruns which were little.  The situation with Chris Hansen is that he is coming up with almost half the cost of the building, owns the land on which it sits and is seeking a permit for a use that is designated in the city zoning code for it.  If Lincoln didn’t like the round and round of the city and state and county reviewing every little detail in the building of Safeco Field he should have paid for it himself.  Conversely, Hanson should be able to put up his building where he likes as long as it conforms to the city’s laws and codes and is able to mitigate its impact to the satisfaction of the city.  The public will be a partner in its construction but will walk away the owner in the end.

    There really is no more ideal location than the stadium district for this arena.  The city long ago designated the area for this kind of use.  Local businesses are geared to events and particularly sports.  The area is historically a warehouse district with vacant deserted streets after hours when many of these events take place.  Mass transit has already been planned to accommodate crowds larger than those attracted by the new venue.  Hotel capacity is relatively close.  Other areas of the city would be more heavily impacted by this project.  Lower Queen Anne has been evolving away from this kind of business since the departure of the Sonics.  South Lake Union is becoming an office and residential neighborhood.  Renton and Bellevue are also possible but neither are as strong as this.  There’s your study right there. 

    I’m a Mariner season ticket holder and have been at least in part for over 25 years.  Howard Lincoln does not speak for me.  In fact, I doubt he speaks for many at First and Edgar Martinez including Chuck Armstrong who strikes me as a someone who got blindsided by this letter and is trying to be a loyal soldier in defending his boss. 

    It reminds me that 11 years ago when he took control of the team, he said he wasn’t interested in winning a World Series but that he simply wanted to build a team that would contend every year.  Howard Lincoln needs to use some of those PR people he employs to vet the things he says and writes.  He would do well to pay more attention to putting a better product on the field and filling those seats at Safeco than worry about their “fan experience” once they get in their cars and leave.

  • fred117

    Howard Lincoln raises a good point about traffic in the area.  Anyone who’s been around the stadiums since the construction of Safeco Field can attest that the traffic is terrible and been getting worse since the viaduct removal.  The myopic closing of Royal Brougham/Atlantic St with a literal corkscrew of a road had almost everyone scratching their heads.  The fact that the city has diverted planned investment elsewhere is incredibly shortsighted.  The problem will only get worse once the new Tunnel is in place and everyone driving up 99 is going to get off there to avoid the toll.

    But, my God, does anyone else with the Mariners consult with Howard Lincoln before he opens his mouth?  He could have easily worded his concern with the situation by pointing at the traffic concerns without saying the arena location was wrong.  And his desire to review other sites for the venue is really irrelevant considering the situation.

    Of course, Safeco Field was built after careful study and lots of public input – it was built by the public.  The Mariners paid for the roof and took responsibility for any cost overruns which were little.  The situation with Chris Hansen is that he is coming up with almost half the cost of the building, owns the land on which it sits and is seeking a permit for a use that is designated in the city zoning code for it.  If Lincoln didn’t like the round and round of the city and state and county reviewing every little detail in the building of Safeco Field he should have paid for it himself.  Conversely, Hanson should be able to put up his building where he likes as long as it conforms to the city’s laws and codes and is able to mitigate its impact to the satisfaction of the city.  The public will be a partner in its construction but will walk away the owner in the end.

    There really is no more ideal location than the stadium district for this arena.  The city long ago designated the area for this kind of use.  Local businesses are geared to events and particularly sports.  The area is historically a warehouse district with vacant deserted streets after hours when many of these events take place.  Mass transit has already been planned to accommodate crowds larger than those attracted by the new venue.  Hotel capacity is relatively close.  Other areas of the city would be more heavily impacted by this project.  Lower Queen Anne has been evolving away from this kind of business since the departure of the Sonics.  South Lake Union is becoming an office and residential neighborhood.  Renton and Bellevue are also possible but neither are as strong as this.  There’s your study right there. 

    I’m a Mariner season ticket holder and have been at least in part for over 25 years.  Howard Lincoln does not speak for me.  In fact, I doubt he speaks for many at First and Edgar Martinez including Chuck Armstrong who strikes me as a someone who got blindsided by this letter and is trying to be a loyal soldier in defending his boss. 

    It reminds me that 11 years ago when he took control of the team, he said he wasn’t interested in winning a World Series but that he simply wanted to build a team that would contend every year.  Howard Lincoln needs to use some of those PR people he employs to vet the things he says and writes.  He would do well to pay more attention to putting a better product on the field and filling those seats at Safeco than worry about their “fan experience” once they get in their cars and leave.

  • Beaulen

    How relevant is a study that had two stadiums in mind to a scenario with two stadiums and an arena?  Are there enough differences to justify another look at the variables?

    And how many cars/people would the hockey – basketball game add to the situation?  Not nearly as many as a Hawks game.

  • Beaulen

    How relevant is a study that had two stadiums in mind to a scenario with two stadiums and an arena?  Are there enough differences to justify another look at the variables?

    And how many cars/people would the hockey – basketball game add to the situation?  Not nearly as many as a Hawks game.