Proposed New Arena in Sodo for NBA Basketball and NHL Hockey

by Bob Fleming

The Return of the Sonics?

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There is now a controversial proposal to build a new sports arena near Safeco Field in an effort to obtain an NBA professional basketball team that would probably become the new Seattle Supersonics. There would also be an effort to obtain an NHL hockey team.

A group of private individuals are offering to build a new basketball stadium in the Sodo district of Seattle, close to the existing sports stadiums: Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners baseball team; and CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks NFL football team. The investors promise to pay most of the cost of the new arena but want the city and county governments to issue bonds for part of the cost and the bonds would be paid off from the arena revenues. The investors give assurance that they can buy an NBA team to move to Seattle, and that it is likely that they can also find an NHL hockey team to play in the arena.

There are many proponents of the plan. Of course sports fans are generally in support, especially fans of the former Seattle Supersonics basketball team, who see this plan as hope of a new NBA team that will be the new Supersonics. Many business leaders also favor the plan as they expect the new arena to attract thousands of people that will spend money and help the local economy.

Some opponents don’t like the idea that some public money would be used and question whether arena revenues will be sufficient to pay off the bonds. There is also strong opposition from the Port of Seattle and unions representing port workers that increased traffic will seriously impede truck and rail traffic serving the port, and this will reduce business at the port, that many shippers will switch to other ports, and that there will be a serious loss of income and jobs at the port.

My Opinions

I am in favor of the proposal, but am wondering if it would be better to use the money to renovate Key Arena. As for the issue over disrupting port business, my solution is to move most of the parking to areas away from the port with a mass transit link between the parking lots and the sports facilities. This would apply not only to the new arena but also to Safeco and CenturyLink Fields and possibly Key Arena.

There are several possibilities for mass transit, but I believe that the best choice would be monorail. An elevated monorail line would be above the streets and railroad tracks so would completely avoid interference with port truck and rail traffic. A monorail would also be able to run at a higher speed and be a more attractive ride than other modes. More about the monorail idea.

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©2012 Robert M. Fleming Jr.

This page was last updated 9 September 2012.