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.