BY SPNW Staff 08:30AM 12/13/2012

How About The Mariners’ Latest Arena Gripe?

The Mariners have more objections to a proposed arena in Sodo, saying that the preferred design poses a threat to public safety. How say you? Vote here.

The Mariners, who will spend $10 million on a new video display screen at Safeco Field, say that the preferred design of a proposed arena in Sodo threatens pedestrian safety. / Mariners photo

Seattle Mariners and Amtrak representatives informed a Seattle design-review board this week that proposed plans for Chris Hansen’s $490 million basketball/hockey facility in the city’s Sodo District pose a threat to pedestrian access and safety. The Mariners opposed the arena’s Sodo location from the outset, arguing that it could worsen traffic congestion, already snarled, on game days.

The Mariners seek an agreement with Hansen to limit simultaneous events at Safeco Field, CenturyLink Field and the new proposed arena. Without such an agreement, says Mariners attorney Melody McCutcheon, “We have significant concerns whether this is workable.”

The Mariners say that the main entryway in the preferred arena design relies on public access along Occidental Avenue South and South Massachusetts. McCutcheon says those streets currently provide access to the Mariners’ parking garage and for emergency vehicles.

Amtrak’s director of government affairs, Rob Eaton, says he’s concerned about a secondary entrance to the proposed arena on South Holgate Street because the street crosses nine railway lines.

Without getting into further specifics of why the Mariners/Amtrak believe the current design of the new arena poses a threat to “pedestrian access and safety,” the issue here is the crusade Mariners majordomos Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong have conducted about congestion, traffic issues and pedestrians getting run over by trains in Sodo ever since Hansen proposed his new arena.

Is it genuine? Or is it a sham?

Certainly Lincoln and Armstrong walk the walk. Thanks largely to that duo, no business in Sodo has done more to limit traffic in the area than the Mariners, whose miserable play for nearly a decade has served as a constant deterrent to people who might consider venturing out for a game (see How Do You Grade The Mariners’ Offseason So Far?, a Sportspress Northwest post about pro franchises running out of fans).

The Mariners’ latest in a long litany of complaints about Hansen’s arena may, or may not, stem from a genuine concern over the public’s welfare. That’s where you come in. Which statement best represents your thoughts?


  • Tian Biao

    Well, Safeco certainly doesn’t pose any threat to pedestrians, because nobody goes there any more. That’s the Ms contribution to public safety. See? they do care!

    • art thiel

      Remember this email, Tian, when Jason Bay is hitting .330 by Labor Day with 30 HRs and 100 rbi.

      • Bryan Clark

        Hahah art. He should remember it no more than the radio hacks or writers that come up with such inaccurate predictions.

        • art thiel

          Tongue in cheek, Brian. We kid here sometimes.

      • Cedric Odom

        He might do that but no one other than myself will be at the stadium to see that.
        The M’s are their own worst Emery with chuck and Howie running the show they they are to a franchise as the Moolf brothers are to the Kings..

      • Big

        That would be Jason Bay the Bay City Bomber.

  • OffTheLows

    That’s a tough poll Art! Options B C and D. I think we all know the M’s objective, and know that the best PR method of fighting a new arena would be to throw up issues like public safety, environment, traffic.. It’s like a free agent who signs for the new team and says all of these reasons without mention of money. If they can throw enough wrenches in the plan to even delay construction for a year, the M’s would take that as a win.

    • art thiel

      Well, it is part of the deal with any EIS — anyone with objection is entitled to be heard. The Mariners have been talking with RRs since the day they knew about the arena, and now the EIS is underway. They had to endure same when Safeco went up.

  • Louis Chirillo

    I’m going to abstain from voting. If Amtrak has concerns, then I think it’s legitimate.

    • art thiel

      Fair enough. Amtrak and BNSF have been opposed from the start, and RRs have, by federal law, priority regarding land use. Big problem for this site.

  • Matt

    The guys who built a stadium next to a RR crossing (which didn’t have an overpass for 10 years), have little business complaining about where a new arena is built with relation to public safety. At some point, perhaps Howard and Chuck will realize that they don’t own/control all the land around Safeco Field.

    If Amtrak has concerns, they are in a good position to voice them and they should be considered. The Mariners need to focus on their awful product instead of making hypocritical arguments against a new arena.

    • art thiel

      The Mariners’ narrower argument is that more frequent two-events-in-a-day will increase the risk. Holgate’s nine active tracks are a serious issue. RRs really hate those intersections because of late-night drunken fans doing things that get them flattened. But that’s more Hansen’s problem than the M’s.

  • Matt712

    I suppose it’s a legit safety concern. However, in 33 years of crossing those railroad tracks (from 1977-2010 when the Royal Broughm overpass was finished) to the Kingdome and Safeco Field, I never got hit by a single train. Not even once!

    Oh BTW, how much of the $84m ‘state Route 519 Intermodal Access project’ (which includes, not only the Royal Broughm overpass, but the Atlantic St. ramp from I-90 and the 1st & Atlantic intersection at Safeco Field, as well as future access to the new viaduct) did the Mariners pitch in? Just askin’.

    • art thiel

      Lucky you, Matt. But there has been a pedestrian-train collision prior to an M’s game. All it takes is one — and one lawsuit — to justify the safety issue.

      As far as contribution, the Mariners don’t pay for city pavement. Getting paved over is a completely different question.

  • Dawgtoe

    I am saddened as a lfelong M’s fan (28yrs) that they would oppose the new arena for basketball. all of their reasons sound bogus and seems to stem from fear of competition for the sportsfan dollars. they did not object about traffic concerns when the Sounders were starting (occasional overlapping of games) but are fearful of oversaturation of the market and less dollars being available for the M’s. Because of their objection, I will not be spending by sports dollars on M’s and will use it towards the new basketball team or other local teams. I hope the M’s brass understand that they are not only alienating M’s fans but fans of other local teams and people who voted with public financing of Safeco field (beautiful stadium with no bad seats in the house). Just wondering but is Amtrak complaining about pedestrian safety concerns from the possible additional of trains if the coal transfer station is approved which is supposed to add to the congestion in the Sodo area? Is the opposition by the shippers/docks/Port of Seattle to the new arena adding congestion to the Sodo area being voiced by these same groups about the added coal trains that will add to the congestion problems in Sodo? Any of the opposition groups to the new basketball arena b*!c# about it?

  • Dawgtoe

    last part was cut out in previous post.
    it should have had: are the opposition groups going to contribute any financial resources like basketball group to help mitigate Sodo traffic problems along w/ the city or are they just going to complain and bitch. Go Dawgs and Hawks.

  • Effzee

    ‘Without such an agreement, says Mariners attorney Melody McCutcheon, “We have significant concerns whether this is workable.”’

    Um… Does it really matter if they object? Do they have any *actual* say in anything? Hasn’t the deal been approved, pending the environmental review? Shouldn’t these crusty old fools be treated like any other curmudgeon whining and complaining about them pesky kids next door?

    • art thiel

      All parties are allowed to raise objections as part of the EIS. This is when process is good, because objecting after the project is finalized helps no one.

      • effzee

        Fine, lol. :-p

  • denny wheeler

    How about if the Ms current ownership simply sells the team? I’m sure there’s a buyer out there who’s interested in building a winner and hiring front office people who will do that. JZ is doing a good job, but given that he’s got to follow the Howie Rules…

    • art thiel

      Denny, you’re not the first to this idea, but no one ahead of you has gotten the owners to take the suggestion, either.

  • Rex

    The M’s are absolutely right here, having an entrance to the arena does pose a safety issue. Perhaps the best solution would be to have the entrance on the roof. Fans could pull themselves up by ropes and then have a bubblator lower them into the arena. C’mon Mariners, first you have a presser for the Jason Bay signing, and now this! DOES ANYBODY OVER THERE UNDERSTAND PUBLIC RELATIONS?

    • art thiel

      Rex, please note the new scoreboard under construction. It will be very cool.

  • Olddawgie

    How many times can you call wolf and expect people to believe you. The only concern the Ms have is greed. Lets all buy tickets to watch the worst show in town for the last decade.

    • art thiel

      There is a cred problem here. But when the first drunken fan gets spattered on a cowcatcher (they still have those, right?), the Mariners can say we told you so.

  • qazse

    It’s hard to leave an objective opinion or vote in such a sadly biased article.

    • art thiel

      Fire away here qazse. That’s why we have a comments section. Enlighten us.

  • Cedric Odom

    I am going to say this, Amtrak is a dead form of travel, the M’s are full of crap. They got their stadium and they need to stow their whining they need to focus on bringing people back to the field other than keeping people away from the area.. what about days where one is sold out and people still want to go to game.. guess who gets them the M’s they might actually fill the stands lol

    • art thiel

      Amtrak will not be happy with you Cedric. Be wary of RR crossings.

  • Lou Novikoff

    Some things never change. You can count on Lincoln and Armstrong to think small.
    The Mariners have had the largest percentage falloff in attendance of any professional sports team over the past 10 years. Lincoln/Armstrong can’t seem to see that dancing groundskeepers, nostalgia events, and an expensive new scoreboard can’t substitute for
    putting a competitive team on the field. The money being spent opposing the arena would
    be better spent on upgrading the current Mariners roster. Same for the big new scoreboard.
    Who asked for it?
    The team will get a bonanza of new MLB revenue in 2014 and should get more from a new local TV contract in 2015—unless local interest drops off so badly, in the latter case, that
    the TV audience has shrunk too greatly. The pattern remains: The team’s value continues to increase, player payroll continues to fall below the $100 million necessary for even a break-even team, and ownership gets ready to cash out down the road. From their standpoint, the less money invested in the franchise the better; make hundreds of milions when you sell it and laugh at the fans for being so gullible.