Seattle Should Look to Phoenix for SoDo Solution

Image courtesy of Valley Metro

With this week’s news, it is highly likely a new arena will be built in SoDo.  Currently, the strongest objections to the arena center around traffic impacts to the Port and neighborhood businesses.  With that in mind I was very disappointed to see that the early design guidance released Tuesday estimates 81% of visitors arriving via automobile and only 6% and 3% coming by rail and bus respectively (page 7).

To reduce traffic impacts, Chris Hansen’s group should strike a deal with Sound Transit, and possibly Metro, similar to the Phoenix Suns’ agreement with Valley Metro, their transit provider.   Under the Rail Ride Event program tickets for home games and other events at the US Airways Center include the cost of train fare in their ticket price.  “Event tickets are valid light rail fare for the day of the event only, for the period four hours prior to the event until the end of the transit day.”

The program was so successful that after a one year pilot it was renewed for 5 more years in 2010. “Under the agreement, the Phoenix Arena Development Ltd. Partnership, the operator of US Airways Center, pays Metro 31 cents for each person attending an event. Revenue received by Metro has averaged $41,194 per month since the program’s inception, covering more than the fare expected from event ridership.”  Not only does it provide income to Valley Metro, but the Suns and the arena use the program as a promotional tool.

In 2010, 11% of Phoenix Suns attendees used light rail to get to the game.  Considering our land use and transportation system, there is every reason to believe the SuperSonics could do much better, especially with both U-Link and Angle Lake Station (with it’s 1100 parking spaces) coming on line in 2016.  It won’t solve the traffic problem completely, but it could make a large dent, and $.31 a ticket seems like a small price to pay to help alleviate neighborhood traffic worries.

About Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson grew up in rural South Alabama. He has lived off and on in the Seattle area since early 2007, finally settling down in Columbia City in April of 2012.  Active in transportation issues, he is a cofounder of Seattle Subway. Since December 2013 he works at Sound Transit. All opinions expressed are solely those of the author. They do not represent the position of his employer, any group he is affiliated with, or even the blog as a whole.




Comments

  1. I never thought I’d hear “look to Phoenix” with regard to transit but this is true. The deal they have is incredible and people love it. Those trains are packed to the gills.

    That whole light rail system has been an incredible success. And their appetite for more has exploded. Right now they are pulling off extensions (that previously were shelved for money reasons) with the greatest of ease and that appetite has expanded to other things like BRT.

    • No hills, No water, No R’s … (need I go on?)

      • … and sprawl like you wouldn’t believe. Their starter line cost the same as Seattle’s did. Yes there are different challenges, but I never actually compared it to anything, I simply was stating their successes. And as far as them pulling off extensions, that all comes from political will. Nothing else.

        Thinking water and hills are the true impediments to getting this stuff is far too narrow a view and implies an unfamiliarity with the political climate and past status of transit.

      • Exactly. And that is exactly why LR should be more successful in Seattle than it is in Phoenix. All those hills and bodies of water restrict mobility and tend to favor high capacity transit solutions like LR. Yes, it is more expensive to build in our environment, but once built it should out-perform.

        Expect a huge bounce in ridership once U-Link is added to Central Link. That is when we can start comparing our system to systems like the one in Phoenix.

  2. It’s still unclear how people will get from Link to the stadium. The site is a long way from both Sodo and Stadium Stations, and the walk is not at all friendly from either one. To date, there hasn’t been any planning I’m aware of for ameliorating that issue. Since we no longer have 1st Avenue bus service either, transit access will be a real problem.

    • The station is close, it’s just a matter of the path there as you mentioned. I believe the plan is to close certain streets to create a “pedestrian concourse”

    • Dude. Stadium station is actually very close.

      At most you might want to add a pedestrian walkway over the BNSF tracks, but you’d probably want to do that as much for other reasons as for ease of access.

      • Stadium Station would be somewhat close if there were a way out of the station from the south.

        As it is, it will be a walk of over half a mile from the station exit to the closest entrance to the stadium. That walk isn’t friendly, either, and there is absolutely nothing on that guidance that would improve it.

        Some sports fans may enjoy the walk for the reasons you described. The ones I know would just say “F*** it, that’s too much walking” and carpool instead.

      • Well clearly they would fix this if they are gonna build an arena down there. That area will look very different, and I am certain they will take these opportunities to leverage the nearby services.

      • +1. It’s only a 1/2 mile walk from one of two stations, not just one, and it’s the same distance as walking from Seatac Arpt Stn to concourse B or C gates. It’s also closer than all the $10 parking east of the busway where hordes walk today to save a few bucks.
        A nice pedestrian walkway over Massachusetts would be a nice addition by Sonic owners.

      • Looking at the atrocious placement of SeaTac station is never a good justification for other decisions.

      • Matthew Johnson says:

        Kyle, I think the point is that for special events (like flying or going to a game) people are willing to walk further than they would on a just a daily errand or commute. Notice how SeaTac station is actually beating estimates.

      • Matt the Engineer says:

        +1 to the pedestrian walkway. That would significantly shorten the walk.

      • CyclistMike says:

        For some comparison – in Philly, the walk from the subway station to “The Linc” is just under a half mile. People will walk to the events and as someone has already pointed out before, this isn’t a daily commute and they’ll most likely be with good company. A half mile isn’t a long walk at all!

      • David L,

        In my experience the people who say that they need to drive because the walk from transit is too long usually also whine about the cost of parking, and then end up parking farther away anyhow just to save a buck or two. I don’t pay much attention to such whining.

        But, yes, a pedestrian bridge from the south end of Stadium station would be nice – for a variety of reasons not necessarily related to distance.

      • re: lazarus…
        People on foot hate backtracking.

        It’s useful to look at the google maps with bicycle routes highlighted to see what makes sense right now for walkers.

        the only current route from stadium station is up to royal brougham, then over to 1st, past SR519(edgar dr), and to massachusetts.

        the freeway onramps preclude most otherwise sane routes.

        I suspect the mariners are unlikely to allow a ped path between the RR and the mariners stadium…

        The potential ped path over massachusetts bnsf would also require a ped path over the busway, and should include a south exit from stadium station.

        all three seem unlikely to be funded.

        even if all three were built, it’d still be a crappy walk late at night.

      • David and PSF are correct. It’s not the distance, it’s the unpleasantness — nay, downright hostility — of the walk.

        Matthew, your image says it all: Phoenix’s train stops right at the freaking front door. In perpetual-summer Phoenix.

        Basketball and hockey seasons are in the dead of winter, and few will walk that succession of exposed overpasses and highway ramps and the awful light across fourth at 10:00 at night in side-sweeping rains if they don’t have to.

        $2.75 is already practically free compared to event parking. But transit usage gets worse for each stadium south of CenturyLink (whose walk is the easiest). Usage from this site will be awful.

        [moved to nest correctly]

      • Zach Shaner says:

        $2.75 is actually not all that competitive. When you consider that the average car arriving at Safeco or CLink has 3 people in it (according the traffic study they did), you’re talking $16.50 for round trip Link fare from Tukwila, or $19.50 for Sounder from Tukwila . My family drives to Safeco/CLink for just this reason. They could take the 550 for $15 for the three of them, but they usually park in SoDo (for free) and walk up to 1 mile to the game.

      • PSF,

        Usually if I want to avoid “backtracking” I just board the end of the train closest to my destination. It’s a technique I’ve used all over the world to minimize my walk/trip times when I’m in a hurry and am using rail transit.

        But even if the rider was to board the exact opposite end of the train, with our current two LRV trains that would only result in only 200 ft of unnecessary backtracking or 400 ft with our eventual four LRV trains. Anyone who refuses to ride transit because of 400 ft of additional walking is probably just looking for an excuse not to ride transit.

        However, I generally support some sort of a pedestrian overpass to support the new Arena, but at this point it is a bit unclear whether such an overpass would benefit LR riders or peds approaching the Arena from the southeast.

      • Lack Thereof says:

        Sports fans are no strangers to long walks from parking to the event. Seriously, people are currently filling private lots near Lander St or further south, and walking to Kingdome events. I worked down there for years, I saw how things happen in SODO on a game day.

        With some decent wayfinding and a designated pedestrian route to/from the station, no one will have a problem with using Stadium Station to access the new arena. People who feel inconvenienced by the walk will continue to pay top dollar to park in the nearby structures.

      • Zach,

        They park where they don’t have to cross the BNSF tracks on foot, don’t they?

      • Zach Shaner says:

        They nearly always find a spot adjacent to the BNSF tracks on 3rd Ave S somewhere between Edgar Martinez Dr and S Stacy St. I’m not sure that’s legal parking, but they’ve never been ticketed or towed.

      • If people are walking to Kindome events, that must be one long walk. :^)

      • Lack Thereof says:

        Kingdome, Safe, Clink, whatever. That big concrete thing between Royal Brougham and King.

      • Lack Thereof says:

        David: There is a way out of the station to the South. The little-used Busway Trail runs along the east side of the tracks as far south as Forest.

        PSF: The freeway onramps add at least 1 sane pedestrian route. You can get from 4th Ave up to the north sidewalk of Edgar Martinez nee Atlantic via a very generous sized and well-lit sidewalk that runs alongside the ramp, or a slightly sketchy set of concrete stairs under the interchange. Google doesn’t consider these as bicycle routes, but for pedestrians they are quite safe and sane.

        It feels safe to assume that as part of the street upgrades for the Arena, we will get a pedestrian path on the north side of Holgate, and a signed/painted crosswalk across Edgar Martinez at Occidental.

      • “The ones I know would just say “F*** it, that’s too much walking” and carpool instead.”

        I guess they aren’t the ones walking from west of University Way or the St Demitrios parking lot to Husky Stadium. Or the ones walking all over SODO from wherever their cars are parked to the existing stadiums. I never understood the purpose of the footpath between Stadium and SODO stations, or the bike locker at SODO for that matter, but I see the footpath being used on game days.

      • There are a great many things that should be done in Sodo to improve pedestrian and bicycle access and safety. Feet First helped gather pedestrian data for the Duwamish TMA and the report is available here:

        http://www.duwamishtma.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/II.-SODO-Final.pdf

      • Lack: That’s not “a way out of the station to the south”. That’s exiting the station to the north, including the extra hundreds of feet from platform to cross street that are Link’s stock in trade, then crossing the tracks on Royal Brough to the east, then backtracking on the bike path.

        That’s exactly the kind of crap that convinces people the train is custom-designed to be a p.i.t.a. to use flexibly.

      • Any walk, whatever it is, is always going to be more pleasant during event times when thousands of other people around you are doing the exact same walk. Lots of people will be willing to do it before and after events that would not be if they were alone.

        Still, though, anything we can do to make the walk shorter and/or more pleasant would be most welcome.

      • Nathanael says:

        “Stadium Station would be somewhat close if there were a way out of the station from the south.”

        So build some sidewalks!

        Lack of pedestrian infrastructure is the single most dramatic way to prevent people from using public transportation!

    • Matthew Johnson says:

      David, did you check out the early design guidance linked to in the OP? There are a couple slides you might be interested in, one on the sidewalks, and another on where they see foot traffic coming from.

      Also, as a pre-life long sports fan (after an Auburn game my father had to pull over on Wire Road so my mother could walk out some contractions the week I was born) I think you underestimate the fans willingness to walk for an event. This isn’t a daily commute we are talking about, nor is it your normal walk. You’re usually in the company of friends and surrounded by a bunch of fellow fans singing songs, doing call and responds, chatting with strangers, etc.

      Consider how many people walk from Pioneer Square to the Stadiums already.

      Now, that’s not to say any pedestrian improvements wouldn’t be welcome, just that IMO they wouldn’t be necessary.

    • David is correct. It’s not the distance, it’s the unpleasantness — nay, downright hostility — of the walk.

      Matthew, your image says it all: Phoenix’s train stops right at the freaking front door. In perpetual-summer Phoenix.

      Basketball and hockey seasons are in the dead of winter, and few will walk that succession of exposed overpasses and highway ramps and the awful light across fourth at 10:00 at night in side-sweeping rains if they don’t have to.

      $2.75 is already practically free compared to event parking. But transit usage gets worse for each stadium south of CenturyLink (whose walk is the easiest). Usage from this site will be awful.

      • Lack Thereof says:

        The walk is a lot less hostile when there is a crowd of sports fans doing it with you.

        People are already walking, en masse, a mile or more through “hostile” SODO from offsite parking locations to the existing stadiums.

      • A ped overpass of the BNRR tracks at Massachusetts is unlikely, because there is a railroad maintenance building right next to it.

        This is the best pathway, based on my study of Google maps: A new south exit from Stadium Station, with an elevated walkway heading west up to the south side of Atlantic/Martinez Street (this would pass across Ryerson Base). Build a new, wide sidewalk along the south side of this street, as far as Occidental. Occidental already has a pedestrian concourse heading south to the Sonics Arena site.

      • Matthew Johnson says:

        Chad, interesting. How do you plan on adding a sidewalk to the 4th/Martinez interchange?

      • This is about the best possible solution you’re going to find.

        It’s a straight line. Bottlenecks could be minimized. It doesn’t involve long waits to cross Edgar Martinez (where 90% of event attendees are leaving in their cars). Pedestrian traffic could be prioritized — with a cop — over the less important south-facing ramps.

        You could even build some weather protection into it, à la King Street overpass.

        Anything less and you can kiss your transit patronage goodbye.

      • And Lack, the Edgar Martinez and Royal Brougham routes actually get worse when surrounded by the throngs. Thanks to the masses and the bottlenecks, you can’t even weave through the crowds if you’re in a hurry. You’re just slow and stuck and, in miserable weather, that makes you even more miserable.

        Before the Royal Brougham Spiral Jetty(tm), I used to leave the South End of Sounders games toward Stadium Station all the time. Scurry across the tracks, bee-line for the station, and you’re on your way.

        The Spiral Jetty has made leaving to the south absolutely awful. Bottleneck at the stairs, bottleneck at the 180° mark, all made worse by the very long light cycle that cops refuse to override, and which you can’t even hurry to make because you’re stuck part-way up the spiral.

        That worst-ever-designed overpass adds nearly 5 minutes to your 1.5-block journey. Awful!

        I always walk the length of the stadium and head toward the I.D. station now.

      • Matthew Johnson says:

        You don’t like people very much do you d.p.? ;)

        I love the crowds, it’s half of what makes the Sounders so great! We take that route in and out of nearly every game (I’m ECS and our seats are in 121), no problems. A lot of the time I agree with your criticism, but sometimes it seems you are being contrary just to be contrary.

      • I like people, I like crowds, I don’t like getting stuck.

        Infrastructure that makes you stuck is bad infrastructure.

      • “$2.75 is already practically free compared to event parking.”

        That’s only true if you’re traveling by yourself and aren’t willing to walk very far. $2.75 per person each way is $5.50 per person for a round trip or $16.50 for a group of 3 for a round trip. There is plenty of parking available for $10 (plus $2-3 for gas) that would be available with a walk roughly equivalent to the walk to Link.

        Bottom line: when you have groups involved, free fares make a really big difference in public transit making economic sense.

      • Lack Thereof says:

        How do you plan on adding a sidewalk to the 4th/Martinez interchange?

        Matt, it already has full sidewalks as far as the West side of 4th Ave. I thought it was North side only, but I was in the area today and looked, saw it’s both sides of Martinez, and down both ramps to the west side of 4th. Adding a couple crosswalks and a raised sidewalk in the current south-side shoulder to extend the sidewalk across 4th wouldn’t be a huge project, at least not in comparison to a pedestrian overpass of Ryerson base.

      • Lack Thereof says:

        Also, d.p., being surrounded by the throngs and trapped semi-immobile in a giant crowd is part and parcel of going to a major live sporting event. You’re not going to engineer that out without closing a couple vehicle lanes on game days, and then you’d still be trapped in the crowd when you get to the gate/station.

      • @Lack: The crowds can get really stuck because they all have to get from west of the railroad tracks to east of them and there aren’t many ways to do that. The spiral ramp is a long thin walking path that runs right into a long-cycle stop light, and a big portion of the stadium’s crowd is trying to use it.

        Compare to the Key. The crowd disperses in a variety of directions using a variety of parallel, street-width pedestrian paths through Seattle Center and the many reasonable crossings of 1st and 5th Avenues. Mercer, Denny, and Broad all suck, but they suck less than the tracks. You can get to RR D and the Queen Anne buses without going through any of them.

        The Key is built in an area where, though the street network is broken up, the pedestrian network is robust. The new stadium district doesn’t have a robust, connected pedestrian network yet. We should build one… or at least more of one.

      • Nathanael says:

        All right! Chad has a solution! d.p. agrees with the technical design!

        Now, here’s a puzzle for STB: can you get a political movement together to get this pedestrian route constructed? It’s a relatively small project with a relatively large benefit. This is the sort of thing local politics *should* be able to get done!

      • Lack:

        Ditto to everything Al said. There’s a difference between being part of an undulating crowd and being herded like cattle. One is fun and the other is excruciating.

        The Key permits the former, while the entire SoDo stadium district is constrained in a way that tends to force the latter. Which is counterintuitive since one is in the actual city, while the other is in a vast expanse of nowhere. But as Al points out, such are the benefits of a complete pedestrian grid: congregation and diffusion go hand in hand!

        Here’s another contrast: Fenway Park, capacity 37,000 (just above the average Sounders attendance). Fenway too is hemmed in by an odd street grid, with an 8-lane highway and railroad tracks to cross between the ballpark and the subway entrance that nearly half the attendees use to get to and from games.

        The difference is that the highway is below grade. It goes under you, rather than you having to climb over it, like in SoDo. There’s barely a change in grade on the wide sidewalk of the Brookline Ave; only about 45 seconds of your walk transpire between building frontages. It feels immeasurably different from the multiple minutes spent on our windswept, circuitous rampways. And until the subway stairs, there aren’t any choke points!

        Moreover, getting to the Kenmore subway stop involves crossing zero major streets. No cops to interrupt the flow or jam up the crowds. Cars on the side streets (and frankly the main streets too) can simply wait until the pedestrian mass thins out. (I can’t even begin to imagine Seattle cops interrupting the flow of garage traffic for mere transit users’ sake.)

        I’ve been in crowds, Lack. Crowds are no justification for bad infrastructure.

        Nathanael:

        I wish Seattle had a track record of proving you correct. But mostly our leaders just build the first, shittiest suggestion, and then sit around after the fact coming up with excuses for why the people didn’t come.

  3. Do the Sounders, Mariners, or Seahawks have any deals like this and if not how can we push for it?

    • Matthew Johnson says:

      Send an email to the McGinn and Dow?

      • Yes! If anyone is in a position to convince Mr. Hansen to enter into a transit/arena ticket partnership, it is Mayor McGinn. The City may not have an obvious role, but it is the purveyor of parking taxes, and can get pushy with the Mariners to share their parking spaces and go along with the pedestrian plans.

        Getting the city, county, and Sound Transit to all sign off on an agreement has been known to happen every few years. And now, WSDOT may want to join the party, too, so our new environmental governor can be in on the photo-ops.

    • There was a similar deal for Husky football but I can’t tell if it still exists. Show your ticket to the driver and ride free to the game. Portland also had a similar deal for Civic Stadium (then PGE Park not Jen-Weld Field) a number of years ago where you could ride MAX for free with your event ticket. It seemed to work well.

      • Scott Stidell says:

        Yes, it still exists for Husky football games–they offer (and have since 1987) shuttles to several local P&Rs, have funded additional runs on a few routes, and your ticket is good as a pass (at least on Metro) on game days. They explain the system well in your season ticket package. An estimated 20,000 fans typically use one of these services, in no small part because almost all parking at the UW is already spoken for, either for donors or as set-asides for students and faculty to access campus. There is little general public parking available, and it fills up several hours before kickoff by those of us who like to tailgate. There is far more parking available in the Stadium District than at the UW on game day–and that’s the reason the shuttle/pass service has been so successful and why Link will likely be slammed on game days as soon as it opens.

      • Kellen Donohue says:

        Actually this went away for Husky football games this year (http://metro.kingcounty.gov/up/spclevent/huskies/). They ran a reduced number of P&R shuttles, but at a cost of $3 one way or $5 round trip.

      • Scott Stidell says:

        This was a change for the 2012 season, which was at the cLink. Not sure if they are bringing it back when they return to Montlake this year…the original transit requirement was in mitigation to the Montlake neighborhood (and others) for the 13,000 seat enlargement in 1987, so it stands to reason they would not have had to do that when playing downtown. (They also didn’t have the room to stage the P&R shuttles near cLink, which they do on campus.)

    • CyclistMike says:

      Didn’t Metro and ST have to cancel their express buses from sporting events because other transportations agencies (taxis) declared it was an unfair practice? While I *LOVE* the idea of having tickets cover the cost of public transportation, isn’t there a chance this will be stone-walled?

  4. An event-only LRT platform added at Holgate has been mentioned. A ped/bike flyover of the BNSF tracks at Holgate will be debated.

    In the much longer run a streetcar spur extension along 1st Ave (connecting to First Hill line and future 1st Ave downtown line) would be cool. The “Stadium District Plan” envisioned by the football and baseball stadium entities recommended this. But major freight issues there, and I don’t know if volumes would support it.

    While there’s a ton of transit in the vicinity of all 3 sports facilities, the end walk is kind of long for a lot of people.

    Wouldnt It be great if the arena can be built without building any new parking like the proponents propose, using shared parking agreements.

    • I agree with your last statement regarding shared parking.

      However, unfortunately the M’s are throwing a bit of a hissy-fit about having new competition in town. To date they have not agreed to make their parking garage available on Sonics game days, and they are fighting Hansen’s idea of converting Occidental north of the new Arena into a car-free pedestrian concourse. The M’s are clearly on the wrong side of this issue.

      As an aside, if the M’s did make their parking garage available to Sonics (and hopefully NHL) fans, they’d probably make more money off parking then they will off selling M’s tickets. The M’s just aren’t much of a draw anymore and don’t really figure into the traffic discussion much.

      • Me thinks the Mariners should concern themselves less with trying to prevent competition in the area and spend more time on building a baseball team that is actually watchable. I don’t know why any Seattle pol would put too much into M’s management concerns about a pedestrian only st. Their objections are so transparent: “how do we continue to make money with a crappy product”.

      • Jason Rogers says:

        Keep in mind that success in sports is generally cyclical. The Mariners recent history might be very poor, but they were good before that, and in all likelihood will be again. They’re basically at the bottom of the curve right now for attendance (~10-12k per game), but it wouldn’t take much for them to get up to 25k.

        I’m not convinced making Occidental pedestrian-only actually solves any problem. There’s a huge sidewalk between the street and the M’s parking garage (seriously; its 75 feet wide or so), plus it would really mess up access for the (few) businesses there. I figure on game days/evenings Occidental there would end up resembling Occidental past Century Link Field, where it is still a street but is occupied by masses of people and vendors, so cars just don’t bother.

      • If the M’s can share their parking garage, it either means they don’t have a game or their parking is way overbuilt. If they don’t have a game, it’s too bad they can’t share the stadium too and we wouldn’t need a third stadium. But sadly, Safeco Field was designed for only baseball and we allowed that. If the parking garage is 50% empty even on game days, then it would be nice to convert half the garage to something else. :)

      • If the M’s can share their parking garage, it either means they don’t have a game or their parking is way overbuilt.

        There’s virtually no overlap between Baseball and the Basketball/Hockey seasons. Although it occasionally happens sports teams work really hard to avoid schedule conflicts not only because of parking but they don’t want to compete for the TV viewing audience. The ability to share parking is one of the strongest arguments for siting all the venues in the same area. However, concerts and other uses may well collide. That said, the Seattle Center would also benefit from the demand a new state of the art arena would generate. But Seattle, intentionally or not seems to be bent on killing off the Seattle Center as a gathering place.

      • Also, a baseball field is much bigger and more outdoor than a basketball court or hockey rink. Only in the Kingdome are they remotely compatible.

      • Breadbaker says:

        The Mariners, who have been terrible for three consecutive seasons, still averaged 21,000+ a game last year, and when they were last decent, they averaged 28,000 a game. They will draw when they get good again. The Mariners are not going to react to an arena plan that isn’t even certain as to time as though they will never be good again.

        While the NBA regular season schedule only overlaps the MLB schedule for a couple of weeks in April, the playoffs run through late June.

      • While the NBA regular season schedule only overlaps the MLB schedule for a couple of weeks in April, the playoffs run through late June.

        While I’m not a fan of major league sports isn’t that a “problem” the region would love to have?

      • The Mariners, who have been terrible for three consecutive seasons, still averaged 21,000+

        I was surprised to see it was that high. And they draw way more when teams like Boston come into town. With just “normal” growth it seems 30k per game would become the norm. As much as I’m a fan of putting a new arena in the Seattle Center the “new normal” seems to suggest that venues of this size belong in SoDo. ABB Anywhere But Bellevue :=

      • As others have noted, the Phoenix photo speaks volumes: rail transit at the front door. An equally impressive image is LRT at the front door of the baseball stadium in SF, where half the attendees arrive by modes other than car. A ramp from Stadium Station to the arena would be more like the old school ramp from the Coliseum BART Station to the Oakland stadium complex.

        The ideal fit here is the best possible connection from Link to the arena, plus really good transit on 1st Avenue. I’m thinking an extension of the City Center Connector high-capacity streetcar line. 1st Avenue is ready for local light rail.

    • Matt the Engineer says:

      Re: Streetcar. Check out the pedestrian path to the waterfront. Combine that overly wide right of way with the huge right of way at the waterfront, and there’s your path for the streetcar.

      • Matthew Johnson says:

        Interesting. What is the context of that image?

      • Matt the Engineer says:
      • Nice, and well-scaled (rather than over-scaled like most “open space” schemes).

        But irrelevant.

        What you’re looking at is Railroad Way, so named because it was the original path the mainline freight tracks took to the waterfront and points north, before the Great Northern Tunnel was built.

        That’s CenturyLink Field on the right. That’s Occidental running parallel to the stadium.

        Occidental does not continue further south to the proposed arena site, being interruped by Safeco.

      • Matt the Engineer says:

        Yep. It would only get us most of the way there, which I still think is pretty good. Compared to running down 1st the entire way through Pioneer Square, running down 1st for two or three blocks might be managable. Or we just cross the street and share pedestrian space up until Safeco, and leave a few blocks of walk to the new stadium.

      • I don’t really see the what the Railroad Way pedestrian scheme has to do with any of this. You can’t possibly think that zig-zagging a trolley off 1st to the waterfront, then back across 1st to the stadiums, makes any sort of sense. Can you?

      • Matt the Engineer says:

        No. I’m talking about bringing the waterfront trolley back. I think I mentioned that.

      • You didn’t. You just said “the streetcar”. No where in this post or the last one was there any reference to the former Benson route.

      • Matt the Engineer says:

        “Combine that overly wide right of way with the huge right of way at the waterfront, and there’s your path for the streetcar.” Anyway, whatever. My thought is that now or in the future we could have a streetcar/trolley with a path from the waterfront right to the stadia. The would be a branch off the traditional Benson line.

      • Matt the Engineer says:

        (end bold)

      • there’s your path for the streetcar

        Literally no one was talking about the Benson trolley when discussing transit access to the new arena.

        No one even brought up the Benson trolley in the post before this, which was explicitly about the verkakte streetcar network alignments.

        Because the Benson trolley would connect the stadiums to… what, exactly?

        Yeah… no.

    • Lack Thereof says:

      A Holgate platform, open only on event days, would solve everyone’s objections. I don’t see anyone coming up with the cash to do it, though. There’s space constraints there.

  5. From Stadium Station you have 3 options to walk to arena:

    A. Take the spiral ped bridge at Brougham then walk south around Safeco and another block
    B. Take a stairs up onto the viaduct structure at Edgar Martinez
    C. Walk south along 4th Ave S. west of the BNSF lines where there arent good sidewalks to Holgate then cross more then a dozen sets of BBSF tracks.

    I totally agree there need to be some improvements to make this walk better. For me personally it’s an easy walk, but for a lot of people it’s not. I think to characterize Stadium station as right at the front door of stadiums and arena is not accurate.

    • Lack Thereof says:

      For B, you don’t have to take the stairs. The ramp has a well lit 8′ sidewalk all the way up. You only need to use the staircase if you are coming from the south and don’t want to backtrack.

    • Lack Thereof says:

      And for C, I would substitute the Busway Trail for the sidewalks on 4th Ave.

      • No.

        You literally just suggested exiting the train, then
        walking north,
        then east,
        then south,
        then west,
        then north again.

        That’s a stroll, perhaps, if you like strolling through industry. But it’s not an acceptable “prescriptive walking route”.

  6. Jason Mitchell says:

    As others have said, the answer for a “carbon-neutral” city is a streetcar spur or another Link station or both. Many of us on these threads walk long distances both by habit and for fun. As it stands the situation is insufficient for the walking interests and abilities of 20,000 people leaving a stadium more or less at once.

    Fingers crossed.

    • Matthew Johnson says:

      I don’t think anyone is expecting to ever get 100% of fans walking. The question is if given enough incentive (free ride) will enough fans make the walk to have an impact on traffic, parking, etc.

      Yes, making walking and transit improvements would help boost the number and I will work to see them included in the planned mitigation, but I am not convinced they are required to boost the transit share.

      In my experience as a Sounders Season Ticket Holder, the biggest problem is not the walk (even with a pregnant wife, if she got too tired we’d hire a pedicab), but the lack of capacity. After matches it is not uncommon for trains to bypass Stadium Station, being packed to the gills at IDS. And expanding capacity is something that in the future can be done relatively easily/cheaply on Link (just add another car).

      • Scott Stidell says:

        good point about the IDS situation after games/matches–that’s why we walk up to Pioneer Square! Never miss a train that way….

        (I know they have a layover track just S of Stadium Station, I assume to run special trains south from there after events–but I have no idea if they use it, or how many additional trains they run if they do, so there’s no point in walking that direction. If there aren’t additional trains, it’s much faster to walk N than to hope you find space on an already full train from IDS. San Diego has always run extra trains in this fashion from Jack Murphy Stadium or whatever they call it now and it makes getting in/out without a car very simple.)

      • Jason Mitchell says:

        Sorry, Matt, I wasn’t trying to discount your idea. It’s a very good one. I’ve always thought season tickets at the Clink should at least come with a free (and maybe at least partially loaded) Orca. Your suggestion is even better and would indeed improve transit share.

        That said. I cover the Sounders and often leave Century Link pretty late. The walk from the north end or even the west side of that stadium isn’t quite the same thing as the walk from the proposed arena, particularly if we’re talking quality and not just distance.

        I’m just saying it’s worth noting that Hansen himself has mentioned how much he likes arenas that line up streetcars for the mass exodus, has expressed a willingness to assist in traffic mitigation, and is currently several hundred million dollars beneath the announced ceiling on his purchase price. And a freight bypass isn’t really an acceptable lone solution for the council’s traffic issues, given its own stated environmental concerns.

      • Matthew Johnson says:

        No worries Jason. Just trying to keep the discussion more or less on track. I think pedistrian improvements are certainly needed, I just don’t think they are required to get more people to take transit.

  7. Look to Portland! I know that a number of Portland Timbers season tickets include all-day Trimet passes. I am not a ticket holder myself, but all of the sets I have purchased from other season ticket holders come with a Trimet pass. Jeld Wen field has very little parking, and I hear that it is typical for 6,000 – 7,000 fans to arrive on Trimet for each game.

  8. Bellinghammer says:

    Would an event-only Sounder platform be feasible or desirable at Holgate, the way Yawkey Station in Boston was before its rebuild? I really doubt it, but I thought I’d ask.

    Also, while far less sexy than rail, lets not forget that the busway does have a Holgate stop, with all-day service on the 101, 106, 150, and 594, giving S King and Pierce fans a decent option. For access from the Eastside or north end, I can’t see walking from IDS to be palatable, and I think we’ll have to see express shuttles as with the Seahawks and Mariners. Adding a small ticket surcharge to make game day transit free seems like a no brainier.

    • Jason Mitchell says:

      To me it’d be a question of who pays for it. Graham Street infill, for example, is a much higher priority, but if the ownership group were willing to public-private partner at Holgate as part of traffic mitigation that could be a different story.

    • Speaking of the busway, I wonder whether it has extra capacity — whether on game days north-end tunnel buses could have extra stadium tails. This might be too crazy operationally, but a tunnel transfer to a bus that already goes down the busway isn’t hard. Several non-tunnel routes from the north/east get pretty close to the stadiums: the 510, 511, and 545 terminate on 6th, not far from Safeco (extending those south to 6th/Holgate on arena event days might be less crazy than extending tunnel routes). The 5, 26, and 28 are through-routed to the 21, 131, and 132 on 4th Ave S. Other non-tunnel routes from the north have easy transfers to the 21, 132, and 131 on 3rd Ave.

      Either way, a little signage could go a long way — display little signs with a team logo on the buses going down the busway or through SODO on game days. It doesn’t sound like much, but Chicago does this on Purple Line trains that stop at Addison on Cubs game days, and it helps both inform people going to the game and advertise to transit users that might in the future. And improve signage to and from the stadiums for that 6th/Atlantic ST terminus. It’s pretty handy for Mariners games and could be handy for basketball, too, if people know it’s there.

  9. Jim Cusick says:

    Holgate St. Should be closed on game days.

    Unless part of the arena plan is for an overpass.

    If you thought there were issues with Royal Brougham, the conditions on Holgate are much worse.

    • Latest Sodo arena plan is an eco-friendly design

      The Seattle Mariners on Tuesday again questioned whether South Massachusetts Street, at the north end of the arena site, and Occidental Avenue South, which approaches the site from the north, could realistically be closed during arena events.

      Yes, at this point the M’s are just trying to kill the deal because they don’t want the competition from the Seattle Kings and the Seattle Coyotes for the pool of discretionary income spent on sports. Once it’s a done deal they will be figuring out how to max out revenue from their garage… just like everyone else with a patch of asphalt in SoDo. The city could impose a parking tax in the Stadium District and devote that money toward traffic and transit improvements.

  10. Part of the transportation plan ought to include a free event-day station-to-front-door circulator shuttle (probably from SODO Station, ID Station, or King Street Station, or maybe even doing a crescent arc route so as to not have to turn around by the arena or stadium), with first seating priority for passengers with mobility limitations.

    I do not want to see regular bus routes ever have to suffer through game-day traffic on 1st Ave S ever again.

    • 4th Ave S has bus-impeding congestion on every game day too. I feel sad for those who live on the 131 and 132 and other routes, and wonder why this has been tolerated for so long. It certainly deters me from living on those bus lines. I take the bus north from Costco so I have a choice of transferring to Link at Lander or continuing downtown on the bus. I never know when games are happening unless I see people in jerseys on the train southbound. So sometimes I have to guess whether it’s safe to take the bus north through the stadium district. When I guess wrong the bus slows to a crawl or stops and I wish I’d gotten off at Lander.

  11. [ot]

  12. I think we should take a moment to remember that this is a stadium that will hold no more than 20k people. It’s impact will be far less than events in the other sports complexes in the area. Even Sounders games involve more people/traffic.

  13. John Bailo says:

    [ot]

  14. [whining]

  15. Since the city and county are paying for a portion of the Arena, how do we make it mandatory that a direct pedestrian bridge be built from the arena to Link?

  16. seems to me they should build an entrance to the stadium on Holgate and add a link station on Holgate as well, operated on game days.

    • Scott Stidell says:

      There will be an entrance to the arena on Holgate. The current Link station is three blocks from Holgate (if there were an exit from the south end of the platform, it would be two, but unfortunately there isn’t).

  17. Matt the Engineer says:

    Crazy idea: Tunnel under the tracks, lining one side of the entire tunnel with stadium-owned retail. Tunnel only open around event times.

    • Lack Thereof says:

      I love it. Probably expensive as hell considering the roof would have to support freight rail, but a wide underground concourse from the stadium to the east side of the tracks would be cool.

      • Not that expensive in relation to the big picture. Figuratively pocket change for any of the NBA stars that will play in the new arena and a rounding error counting pocket change for the owners.

  18. Matt the Engineer says:

    Another idea: Build up Occidental south of the stadium with retail and restaurants all the way to Lander. Widen sidewalks on Lander to SoDo station, and replace some of those sad parking lots with sidewalk-adjacent businesses. Either make a better crossing at Lander or if the port gets it’s way have an overpass. The result? An almost uninterrupted enjoyable walk to light rail.

  19. Let’s remember that not just the new arena is ready for transit enhancements. The transit mode share to all sporting events–baseball, football, soccer–could be improved. Also consider work trips along First Avenue (Starbucks headquarters, etc.). And First Avenue transit would connect the entire district with the whole downtown area for discretionary trips. So yes, enhance connections to Link and the Busway. But First Ave would be a great local transit corridor. It would need reserved transit lanes during events. A high-capacity streetcar line, with a semi-exclusive right-of-way (dedicated lanes), sounds great. Extend over the proposed Lander Street Bridge to SODO Station.

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