SEATTLE – The San Francisco hedge fund manager working to build an arena for NBA and NHL in Seattle will now also fund a transportation and parking study to assuage concerns about traffic in SODO.
Chris Hansen stood alongside Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine and said he hopes the study will alleviate concerns of both fans and stakeholders in the SODO neighborhood and identify how the major problems can be addressed.
"I think we all want a good solution for coming to games down in this area," Hansen said. "At the end of the day I'm also a Seahawks, Sounders and Mariners fan."
The study will take about six to eight weeks.
Seattle's Arena Review Panel, appointed by McGinn and Constantine, said Wednesday the $500 million arena "is favorable" and "has promise," but said "many important issues to be worked through."
Hansen, McGinn and Constantine are working to draft a Memorandum of Understanding for the arena project and aim to have it passed by city and county councils by June 1. If it passes, Hansen said he's willing to spend $10 million in pre-development costs.
"We had to make sure this deal was right for us," said Mayor McGinn. "The arena panel confirmed my read of Chris Hansen's proposal -- that Mr. Hansen is offering a fair deal to the City of Seattle."
Earlier this week, the CEO of the Seattle Mariners expressed alarm about an arena directly south of Safeco Field saying it could lead to major traffic problems in the area.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the Seattle Mariners said that they are very happy to hear about a traffic and parking feasibility study and are very supportive of the process.
"We have a lot of experience down here because we have lived it every day for over 12 years. We look forward to participating in the study, offering our experience and our expertise and helping find a solution that works for everyone," said the Mariners in a statement.
The proposed site for the arena is in an industrial lot located south of Occidental Avenue South and Massachusetts Street, near both Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field.
The site is also adjacent to the Port of Seattle where officials have similar concerns on how a new sports arena would impact traffic around the port. After Hansen's announcement, Port officials said they welcomed the study.
"The port is a major economic engine for our region, generating nearly 200,000 jobs state-wide. Over the next 25 years, the Century Agenda calls for that number to grow to 300,000 jobs for Washington. Many of those jobs will be created by moving many more containers across port docks - something that will be dependent on an efficient and effective road and rail system surrounding our harbor. The sooner we are able to compile the necessary traffic data, freight volumes, and other information necessary to make informed decisions, the better for all parties involved," said Port of Seattle officials in a release.
When asked at the press conference, Hansen did not give any estimated cost to Seattle taxpayers.
"We know about what it's going to cost, I'd rather not comment on it, but it's safe to say I'm paying for it," Hansen said.
The study will also likely look at comparable cities. For instance, in Philadelphia, the city has three stadiums side-by-side for baseball, football, hockey and basketball.
The difference between Philadelphia and Seattle is that multiple freeways feed the sport complexes with over 23,000 parking spots surrounding it. In comparison, the Mariners say there are only 2,500 to 3,000 parking spots. In April, games, shows and other events are scheduled nearly every night.
Hansen reiterated Thursday that he selected SODO site because he thought it has the best traffic and transit infrastructure of any possible site.
Hansen also declined to speculate on any NBA or NHL franchises that could potentially move to Seattle.