BY SPNW Staff 10:43AM 05/07/2015

Seattle arena passes major environmental review

The proposed arena in SoDo along First Avenue South. / 360 Architects

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.



  • jafabian

    Took long enough.

    Not willing to say this is the first step in getting the NBA to return. Not when both Kansas City and San Diego have arenas ready right now and the NBA isn’t there and that the Grizzlies actuality left a superior facility in Vancouver for a smaller one in Memphis. The NBA sits in its ivory tower and does what it wants. If anything, a small step in getting an NHL team here, though the NHL isn’t much better than the NBA.

    Maybe we could get the Goodwill Games to come back??? ;)

    • RadioGuy

      I’d say as things stand, the NHL is a better bet than the NBA. Silver is every bit as smugly officious as Stern and has shown zero interest in returning to Seattle. Hansen didn’t help his image within the league in the latter stages of the Kings fiasco, either, and Ballmer’s exit from the Seattle group hurt them. On the other hand, Bettman has actually visited Seattle a few times and likes the market.

      While this EIS is mostly a good thing, we now have two competing arena proposals and the one in Tukwila reportedly won’t require any public money. I wonder which project looks more attractive to King County taxpayers right now? Things are going to get REEEEAL interesting.

      • jafabian

        With the NBA only one thing will matter: money. If Hansen can pony up $3 billion, yes you read that right, it will happen. I believe it’s going to take a significant amount more than what Ballmer paid for the Clippers. He set the standard. The fact that the owners were divided when Hansen’s group offered over a billion for the Kings also shows that they’re blinded when dollar signs are in front of them. Usually they all stand firm with each other.

        • LennyLuvsLonnie

          Hansen-Ballmer bid for the Kings topped out around $625 million.

          Ballmer paid peak price for the Clippers because of the huge LA media market. Shortly prior, he offered 1/3 that for the small-market Bucks, and the league is currently struggling to find a buyer willing to pay $800 million for the mid-market Hawks.

          Getting a team here, with relocation or expansion fee, will cost in the neighborhood of $1 billion.

          • LennyLuvsLonnie

            Correction to my post above: Hawks just sold for somewhere between $750 and $850 million (figure varies with different sources).

          • Matt

            In about 10yrs, that team in OKC will be a prime candidate to move here. After losing their star players and settling into the dreaded rut as a middling, postseason-less small market club, the fans will return their focus to University of Oklahoma athletics.

            Meanwhile, I’ll look forward to the puck dropping sooner than later.

          • RadioGuy

            I’m not so sure about your first line. The Thunder are the only game in town in OKC and they’ve (thus far) embraced the team the way Portland has with the Blazers. The NBA is the one thing that smaller cities like OKC, Portland and SLC have that’s considered “major league” (sorry, but MLS doesn’t count).

            Otherwise, I agree about the puck-dropping. The NHL clearly is more open to a team in Seattle than the NBA is. The bottom line is that NOBODY is coming until the shovels start turning.