Following the release Thursday of the city’s 627-page Final Environmental Impact Statement, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said that “no major findings stand in the way” of a new basketball/hockey arena in the Sodo district and that “we’re one step closer to bringing NHL hockey and NBA basketball to Seattle.” Chris Hansen, whose aim is to partner with the city in building the proposed 20,000-seat facility, wrote on his web site, “It (the FEIS) is a major milestone in our journey.”
“The City has met its commitment to complete the EIS process,” Murray said in a statement. “No major findings stand in the way of arena construction. The City will continue to work with arena developers, the Stadium District and SODO interests on the impacts that were identified during the EIS process. The City can now begin looking ahead to the street vacation and other pieces necessary to move this project forward.”
Hansen, who owns the land on which the proposed arena would be constructed — on First Avenue South between South Massachusetts and South Holgate streets — also said his investment group is supportive of an NHL team playing in the arena before an NBA team.
Murray added that he is prepared to go to the City Council to modify the existing memorandum of understanding, allowing the city’s acquisition of an NHL team to get construction going. The current memorandum only allows construction and public financing to begin once an NBA team is acquired.
“In light of recent speculation,” Hansen wrote, “we would just like to clarify that we have sought to be as accommodating as possible in our negotiations with potential NHL partners, with our only major requirements being that such a deal does not jeopardize the process or put the City, County, Taxpayers or us in a worse financial position.”
With the FEIS completed, a review will be performed by the Seattle Design Commission, which will assess the street system and the various impacts of the project. The Commission will report to the Seattle Department of Transportation, which will follow with a formal recommendation to the Seattle City Council. That review is scheduled for August.
A final decision for a master use permit could be published by early 2016, specifically no later than March, according to the city. The City Council will have to sign off on the finalized proposal. If the City Council delivers a thumbs up, arena construction would take approximately two years.
In addition to reviewing the Sodo site, the city also reviewed for comparison purposes the impacts of building an arena on the KeyArena and Memorial Stadium sites. That information is contained in the FEIS.
The FEIS calculated that operating an arena in Sodo would generate $260 million in economic activity in Seattle with an additional $53 million in King County.
“The total regional annual economic impact generated is approximately 2,045 jobs and $103 million in earnings in Seattle. The totals for King County, including Seattle, would be 2,473 jobs and $130 million in earnings,” the FEIS said.