BY Art Thiel 09:34PM 04/15/2016

Longshore union challenges EIS dismissal of Key

Claiming Sodo arena’s final EIS was “legally inadequate and defective,” a union attorney is requesting the city council order a supplemental EIS on a remodeled KeyArena.

The longshore union wants the council to look seriously at a remodel of KeyArena. / Sportspress Northwest file

Claiming that the final environmental impact statement on Chris Hansen’s proposed arena in Sodo is “legally inadequate and defective,” an attorney representing the longshoremen’s union requested Friday that the City Council produce a supplemental EIS because the original “omits, and blurs, intentionally, an inconvenient truth” — that a remodeled KeyArena can work for the NBA and NHL.

At issue is a report commissioned by the council and made public in 2015, after the FEIS comment period closed, by a consulting firm, AECOM. The report concluded that a remodel of the Key for $285 million would work for the pro sports teams.

The FEIS did not consider a remodeled Key as a solution on the grounds that the alternative “did not meet the purpose and objective” of creating a suitable arena for NBA and NHL, and analyzed Seattle Center alternatives presuming the Key would be demolished.

Attorney Peter Goldman, representing the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 19 , cited in a letter to council a state environmental regulation that says a supplemental EIS can be required when “there is new information indicating a project’s probable significant adverse environmental impact” including “discovery of misrepresentation or lack of material disclosure.”

Goldman contends that the council, despite spending more than $150,000 for the report, marginalized AECOM’s remodel plan because it appeared to create a potential conflict with the FEIS, which concluded there were no significant harmful impacts to Sodo from the 18,000-seat arena.

The FEIS was made public in May 2015, but the AECOM report surfaced in September only after public-records requests from the Seattle Times and KING5.

The Times reported Tuesday that city staff emails disclosed an awareness that the EIS and AECOM reports may be at odds, but did not include an amendment to the FEIS suggested by an AECOM executive that would have acknowledged another possibility — Goldman’s “inconvenient truth.”

The union, the Port of Seattle, the Mariners and Seahawks have issued lengthy statements opposing an imminent action by the council to vacate a portion of Occidental Avenue to make room for the arena. All have urged a delay on the street vacation vote until the Key remodel gets a vetting.

But the AECOM report considered only a building remodel, proposing that the playing surface be placed on a diagonal angle to create seating for hockey of 15,900, making it the NHL’s second-smallest arena. The report did not examine the transportation and parking issues around Seattle Center.

The FEIS went into great detail examining traffic and parking for Sodo project, after which Hansen agreed to pay for improvements and additions that included a parking garage and a pedestrian bridge. The Seattle Department of Transportation signed off the project, agreeing that the arena posed no significant impacts.

Presumably a supplemental EIS for the Center would have to consider parking and traffic, taking into account all the new development around the Center since the Sonics were relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008, including the Gates Foundation headquarters building.

Goldman’s letter focused on his belief that the city was deceptive:

In its apparent zeal to ensure that a rebuilt KeyArena did not emerge as a viable alternative to a Sodo arena, the FEIS undermined citizens’ right to a fair EIS process by omitting known facts and deploying misleading language to blur the truth. Seattle’s citizens deserve better of their City, particularly with millions of tax dollars and the economic future Seattle’s Port and industrial lands at stake. 

 The city council’s transportation committee will meet Tuesday at a public hearing.


  • Tom G.

    *deep sigh*

    My GOD, the red tape never stops.

    I mean, if the City decides after their agreements with Hansen are done (2017?) they want to take a serious look at pouring money into Key because no shovels are in the ground at SODO (or Tukwila), then I guess that’s their call even though I’m a bit skeptical about the traffic/parking situation in that location along with the $285 million price tag.

    But Chris Hansen already bought land in SODO, has no interest in the Key site and a demolition and replacement of Key (which would accomplish the same goals and traffic levels as gutting it to NBA/NHL standards) WAS already fully examined in the FEIS.

    Hence why this request is just ridiculous from a practical standpoint.

    I mean, maybe you can promise more study of Key in some way (i.e. supplemental EIS) just to avoid a lawsuit, but SODO deserves a fair chance to succeed right now based on its merits.

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    • Tom G.

      HERE’s your “supplemental EIS” for gutting KeyArena, BTW. It’s 1 paragraph long.

      “In 2015, AECOM reported that it is possible to renovate KeyArena to current NBA/NHL standards for approximately $285 million. While the City acknowledges a renovation of KeyArena to current NBA/NHL standards may be architecturally possible based on AECOM’s recent findings, it’s our belief based on the FEIS’s findings that parking and traffic impacts for a KeyArena renovation to current NBA/NHL standards would be EQUIVALENT to a “demolition and replacement” NBA/NHL arena project on Key’s footprint (an alternative that was examined in the FEIS) since both alternatives would be similar in terms of their seating capacities, number of events hosted per year and the kinds of events both alternatives would host.”


      • art thiel

        Goldman’s point is the remodel of Key wasn’t considered, which is true, but AECOM is in the business of building arenas, not in telling a client it can’t be done.

        AECOM’s claim needs to be vetted, including lower QA parking/traffic 200+ event dates.

        • Tom G.

          I mean, if the City wants to vet that idea more at some point, that’s their call.

          But I don’t think it should come at the expense of delaying or killing the street vacation.

          Especially since I don’t think a gutting of Key will be much different than a rebuilt Key in terms of traffic/parking for 200+ events per year. Plus, as I said before, Hansen doesn’t want the Key site in any scenario.

          • art thiel

            Opponents know Hansen’s MOU clock is ticking and that the NBA has no interest in filling the Seattle vacancy while there may be other municipalities to extort with a threat to move the team.

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  • bugzapper

    Earth to ILWU #19: Time to STFU! Seriously! Go play in the middle of Mercer Street at rush hour.

    • giannisee

      That’s the best time to play on Mercer Street :-)

    • 1coolguy

      Well put.

    • art thiel

      I’m guessing the longshoremen might respond: Go buy your electronics and cars in Prince Rupert.

      • bugzapper

        And I’d reply, “Go work there and I’ll think about it.”

    • MarkS

      Because everyone wants an arena with a retractable roof.

  • giannisee

    I like the idea of having something at the Seattle Center, but renovating the Key again seems like a bad idea. ($285 million also seems like a really low figure) I always thought razing the Key and the surrounding buildings from the world’s fair and building a new arena, perhaps with a similar aesthetic to ye olde Coliseum (always loved the look of that building), but of course larger and with NBA-NHL specs and all the other modern amenities. As for traffic, parking has to be addressed (where would the parking garage go). And with light rail expansion, why not a station in Lower Queen Anne.

    • MarkS

      There is a LR station planned for Lower Queen per ST3 but as things stand it won’t be there till 2038. That is assuming the voters pass ST3.

      • art thiel

        Think they’ll still be arguing Occidental in 2038?

  • James Jackson

    Good god. This Key Arena thing is such a joke. I am out of words to describe the level of stupidity at play here.

    • art thiel

      It is a grasp of straws.

      • James Jackson

        Art, I was wondering if you had any opinions on all the work Geoff Baker has been doing on Key Arena over the last few months. I’ve always admired him as a writer but he’s kinda lost me with the obsession over the Key.

  • 1coolguy

    Here is one way for the Clowncil to gain clarity:
    To ALL Sonics season ticket holders, where would you prefer to travel to watch an event, Key or SODO?
    I bet the result would be at least 80% in favor of SODO.
    The only people who would vote for Key would live in QA or downtown.
    NO ONE from the south, north or eastside would vote for the KEY.
    I lived on Capitol Hill and would have preferred SODO.

    • art thiel

      I’m guessing the desires of the 5,000 or so still around/alive would not sway the council.

  • Jeff Shope

    Are these moron union tools going to put up the money to throw away on remodeling key arena? No? Then shut the flip up. It’s a dead issue

  • Jeff Shope

    seattle is too infested with socialist tools and union morons to make anything work

    • MrPrimeMinister

      Not trying to be smart, but you do know that nfl, nba, and mob are union shop?

      • art thiel

        You’re right. Lots of unions still populate workplaces, and it has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

        • MrPrimeMinister

          Right, I know that. Not sure about the other guy.

    • bugzapper

      Wow. You’re still posting the same wingnut crap you’ve been posting everywhere else for years. Slow life?

      • SeaRaays

        Garbage in Garbage out. Say it enough it is your truth. If it is based in fact or not.

  • Edgar Martinez

    Even if a Key Arena remodel was viable, nobody is interested. Many potential ownership groups have explored that option, and nobody wants to do it. This is just a transparent attempt at nothing but a delay.

  • Sonics79

    I think the most important thing to consider here is that Chris Hansen is PAYING FOR the Sodo Arena (albeit with the city’s lending power) and has no interest in Key Arena.
    So what do want? A free state-of-the-art arena, or another remodel paid for by the city?
    It’s an absolute no brainer, and amazing that the powers that be are engaging in the discussion.