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Port of Seattle details its concerns about new sports arena

The Port of Seattle on Tuesday urged Seattle and King County officials to "proceed cautiously and deliberately" on reviewing a proposal for a new $490 million sports arena that would be located next to the port's facilities.

The Port of Seattle on Tuesday urged Seattle and King County officials to proceed cautiously and deliberately on reviewing a proposal for a new $490 million sports arena that would be located next to the port's facilities.

To date, the developer has presented no compelling policy or business justification for urgent action on a proposal that has not been fully studied and that could weaken port/industrial businesses that support 33,000 jobs, provide one-third of Seattle's retail tax revenua and generate $30 billion a year in revenue to the region, wrote Port of Seattle President Gael Tarleton in her letter to the Seattle and King Council councils.

The port, along with railroad and unions, have been expressing concerns about the arena deal since last month, arguing that Seattle's SODO area lacks sufficient transportation infrastructure to support the port's needs as well an arena that would come on top of SODO's baseball and football/soccer stadiums. The Seattle Mariners management has expressed similar concerns.

Chris Hansen, the San Francisco investor leading the private group behind the arena, has said he is funding a transportation study and will release those findings as soon as Wednesday.

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn are leading the charge for the new arena, with the goal of landing professional hockey and basketball teams to the city. Of the $490 million is projected costs, Hansen's group would cover $290 million, with the city and county funding $200 million through bond issues, with the debt repaid by revenues generated by the arena.

On Tuesday, a group of businesses came out in support of the arena plan. The Seattle/King County Arena Business Advisory Committee said it was formed to aide Hansen and local governments in building the new facility. (See below for a full list of members.)

The Port of Seattle, however, said the need for improvements in SODO infrastructure is already clear. Based on our preliminary review, a number of new investments in street and intersection improvements will likely be necessary, along with some operational changes affecting freight and transit movements, Tarleton wrote. The proposed agreement with the developer appears to make no provision for analyzing or funding these improvements.

The Port also released an economic study outlining the port's benefits to the region's economy.

A thriving gateway is what enables us as a region to capitalize on market changes and to expand and strengthen our economy, Tarleton wrote in the letter. Jeopardizing the gateway does not just endanger maritime industry; it endangers the economic sectors that have kept our region afloat during a recession that devastated other parts of the country as well as those that offer promise for coming generations.


List of Seattle/King County Arena Business Advisory Committee members:

  • Dwayne Clark Chairman and CEO, Aegis Living
  • Blake Nordstrom Director and President, Nordstrom Inc.
  • Andy Jassy Senior Vice President, Amazon
  • T.J. McGill Co-founder, Managing Partner, Evergreen Pacific Partners
  • Nate Miles VP, Eli Lilly
  • Jeff Wright Chairman of the Board, Space Needle Corporation
  • Eddie Poplawski President, Barclay s Realty and Management
  • John Meisenbach Founder and President, MCM
  • Stein Kruse President and CEO, Holland America Line