SEATTLE – Supporters of building a news sports arena in the city's stadium district spent Wednesday picking apart studies commissioned by the Port of Seattle that concluded a third major sports venue in SODO would interfered with port operations.
“There was an expectation these reports would bring new information and they did not do so,” said Brian Robinson, founder of Arena Solution, a coalition of local leaders that supports the arena project. “We understand the port is scared of the unknown, but we thought they would quantify that with facts.”
On Tuesday, port leaders heavily criticized Chris Hansen’s $490 million proposal, which includes up to $200 million in public financing.
“What we would like to see is people not gamble with other people’s jobs,” said Port Commissioner Bill Bryant, who led a charge for the five-member group to pass a motion that asks for an environmental impact study to be completed before work begins on the proposed arena.
One study conducted on the port's behalf pointed to a single day, June 8, when traffic volumes were roughly 20 percent higher than a normal afternoon near I-90 at Milepost 2.78. That day featured a home Mariners game at Safeco Field with attendance near 21,000. [Read the studies at the links below.]
The port’s paid analyst, Marni Heffron, said that particular Friday was singled out in the study because a new arena “would generate similar trips as the arena estimated for its events.” Heffron urged port commissioners to push for an evaluation of other arena sites.
Supporters, like Robinson, point out the proposed arena would seat 18,000; a KING 5 report in May found that SODO game traffic was not significant.
Supporters also noted that every site vetted for the construction of Safeco Field was near the Kingdome.
Hansen has remained quiet on that issue and the status of the negotiations.
In 2010, the Mariners paid $500,000 toward the $84 million cost of constructing State Route 519 -- the short stretch of highway linking the stadium district to I-90 and I-5. SDOT, WSDOT, and the Washington State Public Stadium Authority have been unable to answer KING 5's request for information on whether the Seahawks invested in traffic infrastructure as promised during the football stadium's construction.
A group calling itself "Save Our SoDo" took out a half-page ad in the Seattle Times on Wednesday, titled “Jobs vs. Basketball.” The ad asks, “Are we willing to lose family wage jobs in exchange for a new basketball arena?” It does not reference the port’s vote or recently released studies.
The group is led by former state lawmaker Max Vekich and Ballard Oil owner Warren Aakervik.
The studies commissioned by the Port of Seattle: