SEATTLE – Seattle Mariners president Chuck Armstrong on Wednesday sought to clarify the team’s position about a proposed NBA and NHL arena in SODO, saying the Mariners supports bringing those leagues to Seattle, but that infrastructure in the neighborhood would make it “difficult.”
In a letter to the city, Mariners Chairman and CEO Howard Lincoln said traffic, scheduling and parking are cited as the major reasons the arena south of Safeco Field would not work without millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements.
Speaking at a forum presented by the Puget Sound Business Journal called “The Business of Sports” in Seattle Wednesday, Armstrong wanted to make it clear that the Mariners support the return of NBA and NHL to Seattle.
“The Seattle Mariners enthusiastically support bringing an NBA team back to Seattle. There should be no question about that,” said Armstrong. “Let me be equally clear that we think that transportation access-ingress-egress at that site is going to be very difficult.”
Armstrong said the NBA to Seattle would make good business sense for the Mariners.
“We never saw the Sonics as competition and, in fact, when the Sonics left, we noticed that there was a souring in the public mood over professional sports,” said Armstrong.
Armstrong also explained there is a requirement for spacing out events that happen the same day at Safeco and CenturyLink fields. The dual events agreement, between the city, the Mariners and First and Goal, requires that there is a four hour window between the expected end of an event at one stadium and the start of an event at the other.
Armstrong said infrastructure concerns also limit how many day games the Mariners play each year.
“The City of Seattle restricts us to only six weekday day games the entire season because of their concerns about traffic,” said Armstrong.
Ralph Morton, Executive Director of the Seattle Sports Commission, reiterated Armstrong’s concerns and said the process would be a long one.
“The Mariners have an input on what might happen as a neighbor. At the same time, if you look at the plan as it has been proposed, there is no stadium design, there is no traffic plan,” said Morton. “Ultimately as a stadium, if traffic concerns aren’t addressed, it’s not going to be a good experience at the arena.”
The Arena Review Panel is set to hold its final public meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Bertha Knight Landes Room on the first floor of Seattle City Hall.