A bad idea for transit and land use.

Whether or not Seattle might get an NBA team now is a decision that might be left in fate’s hands, but regardless of the prospects, building a new arena in SODO to accommodate both an NBA and NHL carries huge implications.  The partnership that was brokered between a private hedge fund manager and the City would essentially site the arena directly south of the Safeco Field parking garage, making a kind of chain of sports complexes from north to south.  Although there’s a bit of a populist flair in marketing a mega-sports district, I think there’s plenty not to like in this proposal planning-wise.

Transit, for one, gets a good shaft considering the fact that the nearest two stations, SODO and Stadium, are well out of walking distance for many people, at 0.7 miles a piece.  For the huge crowds that a major-league event might draw, you could argue that fans are more willing to bear the brunt of the walk especially given the relatively high costs of event parking.  But consider this– just as many Seahawks fans use Stadium Station to get to CenturyLink Field (despite International District’s closer proximity), a great deal of transit-riding NBA fans would do the same, and have to traverse through WSDOT’s monstrous new SR-519 ramps, scant pedestrian facilities, and a cruddy street grid to get to the arena.

For land use, the implications are even greater.  The revitalization argument is a bit of a two-edged sword– as event-based destinations, sports complexes alone don’t make for good urban amenities, especially since non-use most of the time creates large dead zones with little to no activity.  Seeing as our existing professional sports arenas and stadiums are no exceptions to this even now, stringing them together would add little value and only help reinforce bad segregation-based planning principles from the past.

For the City to hedge its bets on a bunch of cheap land is probably a poor investment decision that especially doesn’t further the cause of promoting density, transit, and the great neighborhoods that should go hand in hand.  As vital as sports are to Seattle’s cultural fabric, planning for their facilities are almost always a one-sided affair with limited appeal to the city as a whole.  If we want great civic life to come first, however, we should treat our sports complexes not as event destinations, but amenities within our urban landscape.  This proposal falls well short of that.

125 Replies to “Put an Arena Somewhere Else”

    1. A stadium in downtown Bellevue, right near the East Link downtown tunnel station and a few superblocks from I-405, would not be a bad idea.

      I just looked at the WSDOT SR99 tunnel north portal site again, and it looks like there’s no WB access to Mercer Street from 99 northbound. That might be within the scope of the Mercer West project instead, but it’s a death sentence for replacing Key Arena.

      1. Yes, once again, I have to ask — isn’t part of the point of “transit” that people can move freely and cheaply within the metro area?

        If a Kentian can jump on a Sounder to get to a Seahawks game, then a Seattlite should also have no problem with getting on a LINK and going to Bellevue for a basketball or hockey game.

        As far as revitalization of Sodo…we already built two stadiums there and it didn’t happen.

  1. I could not agree more. I was truly dismayed, but not surprised, that the preferred site would be south of Safeco. Construction of this facility would be a disaster in the heart of Sodo. Perosnally, I’m more concerned about the land use side of things, but this still falls short even on the transit side of things.

    A secondary point is that that having three facilities of equal magnitude and two more teams increases the likelihood of a double or triple venue. There’s on way that our existing infrastructure—both road based and transit–could accommodate that. This is just an awful proposal and shame on McGinn for championing it.

    1. Luckily it doesn’t seem like it will happen. It’s a bad idea, and a poor use of public energy and resources.

      1. Well a year from now, I bet the idea will be dead. I just don’t see Seattle supporting two more major sports when it comes to it and there’s no way a private organisation is going to dump in as much money as promised. Thankfully, none of this will happen and Seattle will prosper on happily.

    2. Can you elaborate on your land use qualms? I’m not really well-versed on what makes this stadium a poor choice in this area.

      1. Sodo is a regional industrial district and as a land use planner, I have an interest in preserving those uses when high quality manufacturing/heavy indrustry zones exist–particularly in-city such ad Sodo. The PSRC and City of Seattle should stad by policy alone as rational to stop this creeping destruction of industry land. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. True industrial zones deserve the same sort of protection as we grant agricultural areas. That’s not to say that some use are not compatible that aren’t inherently industrial (i.e. commerce and residential). But a major sports arena is not one of those.

        Also, this will just exted a dead zone that exists 95% of the time. In other words, the neighbourhood will become even less vibrant. Not more contrary to many who seem to argue otherwise.

  2. Where else could the stadium go? While the street grid may be a little icky, there’s something to be said how the Sodo Trail gives easy access to both stations; it’s just a matter of building the pedestrian facilities from the stadium to the trail.

    All things considered, this is the best spot; definitely better transit connections than Seattle Center.

    1. Hardly. Seattle Center has service from Downtown at 5 minute intervals even on Sundays. Plus, it has links to most neighbourhoods in the city. So people from the south and east have to make an exchange. Oh well. They weren’t as likely to take transit anyway.

    2. Where else? Where they already are. We don’t need an NHL team or an NBA team. We’re Seattle.

      Have you noticed those mountain ranges to the east and west? the rainforest? The beautiful neighborhoods (even the ones that aren’t all single-family homes)? It isn’t sports franchises that make this city great.

      Keep these revenue-losing tax-sucking port-removing playtoys for billionaires elsewhere.

      1. This would be possible in Perfectland. If our only option is to steer where it will be built lets put it somewhere walkable from regional rapid transit.

      2. Allow me to paraphrase Bernie’s post: “Nothing can ever change! This isn’t a city, it’s a backdrop for the movie that is my life! You’re all just extras.”

      3. Allow me to paraphrase Bernie’s post:

        What post? I hope Seattle gets a team(s). Talk of a Bellevue location was in the Bel-Red coridoor which would be a disaster. The 405/520 interchange is a mess already. The last thing the development of that area needs is a huge area that’s peak demand is during the PM commute and sits vacant most of the year. I’d originally though that Seattle Center would be the best place but the Area does just fine without the NBA (they got SU, the Storm and loads of other events), the traffic handling isn’t great and probably never will be. The stadium district looks like the best place to put a stadium. Failing that the next best place would be Kent (near the ShoWare Center) or Auburn (near Emerald Downs) so that it can draw from Seattle, Tacoma and the Eastside. But neither of those would draw as many fans as DT Seattle.

      4. Attitudes like Brent’s exemplify everything that is wrong with Seattle. I am born and raise here and sports teams are greater part of my life than any neighborhoods or rainforests will ever be.

        Stop thumbing your nose at people with different interests than you, it is obnoxious and unbecoming.

  3. Good access by transit ought to be principal requirement for siting a facility like this. Same urgency as fire lane- along with power, water, and sewers. Might be a good idea to work projects like this into the Waterfront project. A southward extension of streetcar tracks currently planned for Occidental could connect new facility with both the Waterfront and the rest of the transit system.

    Very hard to keep an open mind on present stadium proposal. Don’t like secretive inception, and will insist on many times more guarantees on public-private endeavors than before Citizens United case made corporations people. Also found Seattle Times’ front page picture of principal figure positively creepy. My whole idea of government starts with citizens refusing to take that view of anybody.

    Mark Dublin

  4. I understand you sentiments, however I believe this to be the best feasible location for two reasons. One of those being exactly what the comment above me has stated the “somewhere else” would probably not be in Seattle. Second for one of the exact reasons you said would be a down side,

    “as event-based destinations, sports complexes alone don’t make for good urban amenities, especially since non-use most of the time creates large dead zones with little to no activity”

    if we had all three together there would always be at least one of those teams playing, bring people to use the whole area year round. it would be good for the business year round and if due to the increased amount of pedestrians in the area some pedestrian improvements would have to be made over time, perhaps even making this area a good place to live one day.

    1. As a resident of Bellevue I don’t understand why people insist on this being is Seattle. Despite Kemper’s best efforts, Bellevue is going to be building a light rail system that can easily move people to and from a stadium, plus it has a transit hub that makes it easy to get there from anywhere on the eastside that doesn’t have link access. A site right across 405 from DT bellevue would be easily accessible from both BTC and the hospital station, plus I think it would be far better land use than a bunch of used car lots.

      1. It’s just one line in Bellevue. There will be 2 lines coming together in SoDo when East Link gets built, and it is also where Commuter Rail terminates.

        There is no plan for multiple LR lines in Belleuve in the nest 30 years, and not plans at all for Commuter Rail in Bellevue.

      2. No, neither the stadium station nor the SODO station will be served by the east link. Both of these stations will only be served by the south link, so again, it’s one line. Arguably people could transfer from the east link at the ID station, but then you can just transfer from the south link to east link to get to bellevue. Also, commuter rail doesn’t serve either stadium or SODO, unless you think they should add a station there.

        I think your referring to the ID station, but that’s too far of a walk to expect the vast majority of people for the new site to be willing to make.

      3. No there won’t. There will still be one line in SoDo. East Link joins Central Link at ID station.

      4. Lots of people will walk from ID station to the new stadium. In fact, on game day I’ve been known to walk from the Belltown neighborhood down to Safeco. Why? Because it is often faster than the bus, and it really isn’t a very bad walk.

      5. Lots of people will walk out the left door of the Blue Line, onto the new center platform at ID/C Station, and right onto a southbound Red Line. (at least in my dreams, if we have to get stuck with a tax-sucking NBA/NHL scam.)

      6. You are a transit advocate yet you claim the ID is too far to walk for people? Are you crazy or just an anti sports zealot?

        I routinely walk to/from downtown to the stadiums for games. Thousands of others do as well.

    2. Ya, this is by far the best available spot for a new stadium.

      It’s where most of the transit infrastructure already is (where else do you LR and CR coming together along with a multitude of bus routes) and road access for those tied to their cars is the best in the region (SR 99, I-5, and I-90 all come together in one spot). Plus it will really help all the local event based establishments that see their business dry up during the winter sports void.

      Put it exactly where they suggest, and work on improving transit connections.
      Because it is a whole lot easier to improve access to the existing Stadium LR station (south entry) than it is to build all new transit infrastructure in Factoria or Kent.

      And, IMHO, 0.7 mile really isn’t a long walk on game day – lots of the available parking is that far away anyhow.

      1. Actually, the best (not necessarily available nor realistic) spot would be right downtown, with LOTS of office and housing on top, retail on the bottom.

      1. Why couldn’t it go along King St. at 2nd Ave or Occidental? Plenty of space, perfect transit accessibility, and nothing there now but striped asphalt.

      2. Because the person interested in investing 300 million into the project owns the land south of the Safeco garage. This isn’t some dream scenario where the city is just giving out land wherever they want.

    3. Agreed. On all counts.

      Yes there will be impacts with putting a new Arena in. HOWEVER putting it anywhere else in the region, especially the Eastside would create even more impacts. How many acres of new parking would have to be created for a new stadium in Bellevue? We’ve got a couple LR stations within pretty easy event walking distance*, we already know how to do extra event buses, we’ve already got a ton of parking in the area, with all the stadiums together, you can have events related businesses survive year round.

      Seriously, most negatives I’ve seen are the same negatives ANY stadium/arena sighting will have. On the whole, I have yet to see how any other site would handle those problems better, and in fact they would all handle them worse.

      *What could be done to improve the connections? Seems to me to be a good idea in general.

      1. +1, Anc.

        (and this would be the time to push hard for a First Avenue or Waterfront streetcar/extension as a quid pro quo.)

    4. I basically agree with Eliot’s comments. To nitpick, though, a much better site would have been further south in Sodo, near Lander St. That would have been easy to access from Sodo station. The only drawback would have been fewer economies of scale for game-day oriented businesses like sports bars.

      1. Actually, a better site still would be the Metro bus barn site (or whatever they call it) just to the East of Stadium Station. The fact that people on this blog will scream and wail about urban planning and density issues in relation to a sports facility, but not even mention the big waste of real estate that is the Metro base, speaks volumes.

      2. Totally disagree that it speaks any volumes. I suspect that most commenters here would support a relocation of the Metro bus barn if it included land use changes and density in the area. I for one certainly would maintain that position in addition to the idea that SODO is a bad location for a new arena.

      3. You don’t think the INDUSTRIAL district is a good place for a bus barn? What’s a better place? The area south of Rainier Beach?

      4. The problem is that, considering its close proximity to transit and density, it shouldn’t be an industrial district. Rather it should be a mixed use neighborhood with an actual street grid. Considering the politics and freeways (notably I-90) tearing through the neighborhood it may be difficult to upzone and develop the area any time soon, but I still think that should be the long term goal. A better location for the bus base would be south of Spokane street in the fairly small area that is completely surrounded by pedestrian barriers (freeways and rail road tracks) and is not served by transit.

    5. Eliot,

      The NBA/NFL/MLB seasons may be staggered, but you’re still talking about 3-4 hour event blocks at one time, not to mention that the Seahawks only play once a week anyway. Even right now when the NFL and MLB seasons overlap, Royal Brougham and Occidental are dead when there isn’t a game going on. If you think about this on a daily cycle, you probably won’t expect day-round activity. If you really want to do that, we need a significant amount of new housing in that area.

      1. Don’t forget that the Sounders bring in 40k a game on 18 occasions a year, plus other events at the stadiums.

        You might not have a daily flourishing district, but with 5 sports teams playing year round in the area, you are going to create a lot of traffic for bars and restaurants.

        And there is no reason why more housing couldn’t be added down there if the city felt that was the best use of land.

  5. An overhead pedestrian bridge from s. massachusetts to the south end of stadium station is what we ought to start lobbying for.

    1. Haha everyone is beating me to the punch. This was my other comment. New access to the to the south end of the Stadium Station platform could reduce the walking distance a bit. Also ensuring the entrance location is on the right side of the building.

      From encouraging non-SOV access perspective, I much rather has a stadium downtown, 0.7 miles away from Link, and somewhere else where transit service will certainly be worse, if not non-existent.

    2. Agreed! And it is a whole lot cheaper to improve access to Stadium LR Station than it would be to create all new infrastructure on the Eastside or in Kent.

      We already have good transit and transportation in SoDo, and we have the infrastructure to support sports fans before and after the game. We should put the new stadium in the same area as the existing stadiums and leverage our current investment in SoDo infrastructure.

      1. As a corollary, would an Eastside location require similar dedicated ramps? Would downtown Bellevue or the Spring District tolerate them?

  6. There are limited locations within the city of Seattle to build an arena. While I would prefer they rebuild it at the site of Key Arena (which has zero Link connectivity BTW), I’ll take an arena near downtown and within a 14 minute walking distance of two Link stations over a trip to Bellevue any day. The proposed site replaces mostly warehouse buildings, and if anything, would encourage more pedestrian friendly businesses in the area that could attract sports fans from all 3 buildings year round.

    As for the unpleasant ramp maze near stadium station, a route from Sodo Trail down to Holgate may be a better route.

    1. “The proposed site replaces mostly warehouse buildings, and if anything, would encourage more pedestrian friendly businesses in the area that could attract sports fans from all 3 buildings year round.”

      Warehouse buildings aren’t useless. Industrial jobs are the backbone of a city, and local manufacturing will become more important in the future when cheap oil-based intercontinental shipping becomes a thing of the past.

      1. Didn’t Nickels try to change the zoning of that area years ago? To re-zone for more residential, shopping, etc. I seem to remember a huge uproar from landowners there saying that Seattle was trying to kick out their light industrial businesses. But, changing it for a sports arena is OK? That doesn’t seem right.

      2. You are talking about one parcel of land owned by someone who wants to invest in an arena. Hardly a sweeping change in zoning in the area.

      3. We’re talking about public financing that will hopefully turn a profit, and has guarantees that the investors will pay for overruns, but could put taxpayers on the hook if the company goes bankrupt. (Remember the 2008 financial crisis, and the underused parking garage at Pacific Place?) If the investors were merely asking for a building permit and zoning waiver, I would have little to say except a minor lament at losing industrial land (because it’s just a minor amount of industrial land). Earlier stadium deals have included a lot more special favors than that, like a publicly-built stadium and special-purpose hotel/restaurant tax. So this deal is better for the citizens than earlier ones, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have holes. I could see the Kingdome as a bona fide public investment because it was used for much more than just sports (and thus benefited a wider cross-section of citizens), but you can’t say that about these stadiums, whose main reason for existence is a cash cow to the team owners through luxury-box tickets.

  7. 1. If you’re going to build a arena in the city, SoDo is the best place to do it. Where else you going to go? N. Seattle? Magnolia? U-District? Capitol Hill? West Seattle? There just isn’t many good in-city options. A suburban arena is an even worse proposition given the fewer transit options and less density.

    2. If you want to increase transit options, put another Link station closer to the new arena and only have the train stop there during events. Put the cost of the new stop on the burden of the private developers; I doubt that would be a deal breaker for them.

    3. I think the article seriously underestimates how much walking sports fans do when going to games at Seahawks Stadium and Safeco; that’s really a non-issue in my mind. People that can’t walk a mile will find transportation that gets them closer to the arena (cabs, bus, car). Those that can walk the distance will be able to take the bus/train/cabs or whatever else they desire. That’s not much different than what happens right now in SoDo, or at practically every single stadium/arena in the country.

    4. I’m not sure I understand the non-revitalization arguments. It’s not like this area is a bastion of activity right now. The main use would be during sporting events that take place during the evenings or on weekend afternoons from October to May. I currently don’t see any activity in that area during those times right now. Sure, when no events events are taking place you’ll have big empty area, just like the current situation, but the 80 days with events (assuming both NBA and NHL teams each playing 40 home games a season) would be 80 days more activity in that area of SoDo than currently occurring.

    5. Would this arena prevent other development in the area? The area has seen little development during my lifetime (almost 40 years) other than the stadiums. Is this really preventing some kind of future ideal development? It doesn’t seem like it.

    1. The other thing to keep in mind is that sports fans usually don’t walk from their transit stop/parking spot directly to the Stadium anyhow. They usually stop at a pub or a food joint on the way. So 0.7 really gets broken up into a couple of shorter trips.

      I just did the math, my “preferred” parking spot of the M’s game is between 0.5 and 0.7 miles from the stadium (varies with my luck in getting a street spot). So 0.7 for me is status quo.

      Also, I’m really not sure it is 0.7 miles from Stadium Station to the new facility. My quick look seems to indicate it would be something less, particularly with new access to the south end of the station.

      1. Very true on the bars/restaurants, etc. For many people, gameday is usually is a bigger experience than just going to the event.

        I probably walk a couple of miles, minimum, when I attend an event at the stadiums. My step-mother has to use a cane due to horrible knees, so my father always splurges the cash to park close to Safeco when they attend a game but takes the bus with me when it’s just us.

      2. When I would go to the Gorge for a concert, I’m sure I walked A LOT more than .7 mile from my car to my seat. And going back to my car afterwards, it would be a lot more because inevitably, I would forget where I parked my car!

  8. Mark me down in the “good location” column for the reasons listed above. At least until someone can convince me that another location would be a better area to create a new seperate dead zone. Or unless a proposal comes along for a single multi-story stadium for football/baseball/hockey/soccer/basketball.

    I’m becoming more and more serious about a tiny gondola connecting the Stadium station and this stadium. It could be small, short, and cheap and move a huge amount of prople. And they could choose to operate and staff it only when needed.

    1. “Or unless a proposal comes along for a single multi-story stadium for football/baseball/hockey/soccer/basketball.”

      We had one of those; it was called the Kingdome. We should just remodel CenturyLink field to be multipurpose like the Kingdome was, and sell Safeco Field to whoever is willing to ship it somewhere else.

  9. I’m disappointed at the Seattle parochialism exhibited by some commenters. Bellevue is going to get light rail; that’s beyond question. Bellevue is rapidly on the way to development densities rivaling (and maybe some day exceeding) Seattle’s.

    Putting an NBA/NHL arena over there at a site within walking distance of a Link station (less than o.7 miles, hopefully) would be entirely consistent with growth management principles.

    Broaden your perspective, transit people!

    1. There are a whole host of issues with a new site not in the SoDo area. You’d need new transit connections, new parking lots, expanded hotel space, new service industries, etc. It just doesn’t make sense, and the guy with the money to supposedly make this deal happen isn’t even proposing it.

      1. Not that I’m particularly promoting Bellevue, but a site near its downtown has all of that or can be easily augmented. Bellevue has hotel space, transit lines and express buses to most major destinations, a RapidRide line and will have Link.

        The bad thing I can think of is that they will build massive parking garages for this thing if it is located there.

      2. Bellevue doesn’t have the tax base to dilute the investment it would take to make it look like no government subside is involved. Nothing is currently zoned to accept an arena so the payoffs would be hard to hide. There’s already enough of a cloud over the Spring District give-away to a single developer; add a sports team owner to the mix and watch the sparks fly.

    2. I pretty much agree with the sentiments of Transit voter with a few added ideas. The main point of Sherwin Lee’s post was that this proposal isn’t associated with land use changes, which negates most of the social benefits of a stadium: “as event-based destinations, sports complexes alone don’t make for good urban amenities.” However, I would assert that sports complexes can be a centering amenity for a neighborhood and a focal point for surrounding growth, businesses and density. Chicago’s Wrigley field is probably the quintessential example providing character and activity to an otherwise generic north side neighborhood.

      With an absent street grid, a plethora of invasive highway ramps, a lack of coherent land use policy and a negation of the contextualization benefits that would result from three stadiums together makes, the SODO proposal a poor one.

      It does amaze me that people on this blog, who tend to emphasize long term growth patterns would be willing to settle on the idea that an arena shouldn’t be part of a neighborhood that has a legitimate chance to grow around it. Here are some neighborhoods that would make more sense from a land use perspective: Northgate, Bellevue, Bel-Red, Tukwila (near light rail), Roosevelt. Even south SODO (Lander street) would be better than this proposal.

      Ultimately, SODO has been the recipient of some terrible land use policy and unfriendly roadway projects, and building a third stadium there will only make things worse, while investing stadium resources elsewhere could be a huge boon to that neighborhood.

      1. As an Chicago native, Cubs fan, and former north-side resident:

        Wrigley presents the same challenges to its neighborhood that other stadiums do: high peak activity and low activity otherwise. Plenty of other north-side locations have as much or more interesting stuff going on as Wrigleyville, and easily more character, too (just because Waveland is one of the ten streets you’ve heard of in Chicago doesn’t give it “character”). And, to the extent that the stadium is a good neigborhood citizen, it’s because of what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t have too many night events (there is an agreement with the neighborhood about this — the neighborhood fought against lights in Wrigley), it doesn’t provide cheap/free parking that clogs the neighborhood streets with traffic, etc. On the other hand, the neighborhood contributes greatly to the stadium and the team. It’s what makes Wrigley a destination even when the team is as bad as it’s been for the last 100 years.

        Because of the low average intensity of the land use, exacerbated by owners’ desire for large seating and parking capacity (these desires strike me as irrational to the extent that they stunt nearby development), arenas probably aren’t going to start displacing intensely built-up areas any time soon. Northgate, Bellevue, and Roosevelt would never make sense for a stadium because the land is just too valuable (also: why don’t you go to one of those Roosevelt community meetings and tell the people you want to turn their neighborhood into Wrigleyville… LOL). Probably not Bel-Red either. I don’t know Tukwila enough to comment. Low-value industrial land, parking lots of existing stadiums, and undeveloped land are where sports stadiums get built. Wrigley, itself, was built on undeveloped land, out in front of Chicago’s urban sprawl, which was then driven on rails. The neighborhood grew up around the stadium before auto-domination, so it filled in without a big parking footprint, and that’s what you have today.

    3. Bellevue has height that looks impressive from a distance. But, as a recent post here illustrated, in terms of density downtown Bellevue developments tend to “punch below their height”. Many older, squatter developments are a lot denser. But… that doesn’t mean Bellevue would necessarily be a terrible arena site…

    4. Please, not in Bellevue! I don’t want to be bailing Chris Hanson’s edifice out in a few years when he decides it’s too small, big, old, wrong location, or whatever. Seattle has a much larger tax base and population to spread those kind of speculative “investments” across.

      1. Please, no public financing of private arenas anywhere. Any public risk is stupid and unacceptable for any city. That’s more important than siting, since land value and availability concerns basically dictate siting anyway.

    5. It has nothing to do with “Seattle parochialism”; the guy that is proposing the new arena owns land in SoDo. Why would he propose a arena on the eastside, where he doesn’t already own the land?

  10. If we get a west Seattle to Ballard transit line then it could serve all three stadiums much better than the current line. I would think they would run on the surface thru Sodo and then tunnel under downtown. If it’s a streetcar then I imagine it would run down 1st. Serving Starbucks Center, the stadiums, waterfront, ferry terminal, etc.

    1. Bingo!

      Transit connections to the proposed arena site are actually not too bad currently, would improve still more just by adding access to the south end of Stadium Station, and when the Westside line gets built the connections to Link will actually be excellent.

      You can’t say that about any other proposed site.

  11. I’m a bit ambivalent about this location. SODO is an industrial zone and by its nature is “dead” to a vibrant walkable pedestrian environment. Just because it is not “inviting” to urban dwellers does not mean the area has no value to the city. Indeed, it is the unsung vital piece of Seattle’s economic engine. Things get made here, things get repaired here, things get stored here, things get distributed from here, lots of people work here. Businesses here can be grimy, noisy, smelly and not have to worry about offending the sensitivities of neighbors. That is what industrial zones are for.

    My worry about extending the stadium zone further is that it potentially threatens the industrial zone to residential or office development putting these separate activities into potential conflict. It is one of the places where the “free market” fails people by putting land value pressure to convert land being used for vital and useful activity into more dwelling or office space. This is tantamount to eating your seed corn or spending one’s working capital. If we don’t want the value that this zone generates to move outside the city and the jobs and taxes with it; if we don’t want to encourage further sprawl as a consequence then siting this additional arena here is perhaps not a good idea.

    Conversely, for this type of arena I think near downtown Bellevue is an intriguing idea. I think it provides a type of economic activity that would encourage further density in Bellevue I think more directly than a Seattle site.

    I also strongly think we transit advocates need to discard the notion that development activity should ONLY take place inside the political boundaries of the City of Seattle. Bellevue (and its vicinity) is now firmly established as one of Washington largest and economically important cities. Sometimes choices like this need to be made on a region wide basis. Now, having said that, Bellevue will need to radically change its land use and development practices to reduce the requirement for parking as it is becoming an actual impediment to development. They should embrace developments that are not car centric, the roll of public transit in serving their corridor and get into the 21st century.

  12. I’ve felt for a long time that this was the best place for a new basketball/hockey arena for exactly the same reasons this post doesn’t like it.

    Sports and entertainment venues are often empty by their nature, and so are the vast parking garages constructed to accomodate them. So no new parking would be required or requested by the city due to the existing supply. That’s a win.

    The proximity to the Stadium station is about 1/3 of a mile as the crow flies. Of course, we can’t walk through buildings. Constructing the pedestrian infrastructure from the south side of the station along Edgar Martinez Drive as a part of the arena construction is an expensive, but possible, solution that would provide a more direct route to the new arena, reducing the walking distance from 0.7 miles to approximately 0.4 miles.

    The location within a “mega-sports district” preserves other, more valuable land for higher intensity uses. For this reason, I’ve dismissed the idea of a downtown location.

    To keep the arena in Seattle, along the Link, and from replacing existing residential, there are five station areas that could work. Capitol Hill would be almost impossible politically and rationally due to the character of the existing neighborhood, but it fits the criteria I’ve outlined. International District station could likely support it on the existing 8 acre surface parking lot north of CenturyLink Field. If an accumlation of property could be completed, the SODO station would fit the bill pretty easily, with much of the parking being accomodated through shared parking with area businesses.

    Mount Baker Station has the old Sicks Stadium site with a Lowe’s currently occuping that 13 acre site. The Mount Baker site might be large enough to include a parking garage, which would be required. And the Othello Station also has a site that is big enough where the Safeway and Seattle Urban Academy is. Both of these sites are highly residential, would be replacing existing uses, and located immediately adjacent to a station. Ignoring the uproar from these communities about an arena coming in next door, these locations would be great for the events themselves, but will remain severely under-utilized the other 240 days a year there is not a game, concert, or other event. The resulting “dead zone” is a large part of the reason why an arena deserves to be clustered with other arenas with complimentary schedules. The last thing that will improve any neighborhood attempting to create a vibrant, 24/7 environment, is to throw in a 12-acre energy center that operates 100-120 days a year.

    If you look gaining the most value from the light rail system, having daily users and uses as close to the station as possible is the best way to go. The current proposed location of the new arena is the most effective location to increase the value of the light rail system as a whole, adequately service patrons of the arena, and maximize productive land use along the Link system.

    If you are of the opinion is that the arena shouldn’t be built in Seattle, or at all, that’s a different argument entirely.

    1. And in the time it took me to write my comment, most of my thought process was addressed by other comments.

      There’s a reason I read this blog daily, even though I’ve lived in Arizona for five years. Great thoughts and arguments, even when they dissent from my own!

    2. I really don’t get this dead zone argument. Does anyone consider generic parks dead space?? No most agree that strategically placed parks can center and contextualize an urban space. While arena’s and stadiums are often not being used its preposterous to imply that they inevitably suck the life out of a neighborhood around it on non-event nights. The area around Key Arena somehow manages to be relatively vibrant despite its proximity to a giant dead zone (and dispersed uses on its entire east side). But with three stadiums, it is hard to envision there will be enough all day uses to make up for three to four blocks of commonly unused property. One stadium fits into the mixed use model and can benefit a neighborhood, three stadiums turns the area into a single use zone and goes against basic concepts of good urbanism.

  13. It’ll be fine…why worry so much. Plus, it will finish the sports stadium trifecta. Finally, there’s a link light rail station right nearby…when it’s finally built out, more people will take it rather than suffering driving through Sodo. Isn’t that what all you transit folks want? To make driving so horrible people are forced out of their cars? Also, Sodo is dead on the weekends, anyway…why not having a venue that is attracting people then? Sodo is a great place!

  14. I’m interested in the idea of transportation capacity near stadiums. People have said that Seattle can’t build the transit capacity to empty out a packed stadium, and of course, car-based facilities struggle under the load as well.

    There are interesting things that work about car-based facilities. People disperse on foot to their individual cars — there aren’t typically huge delays here. Then their progress out of garages and lots is metered by the limited lot exits onto the roads — this is one place many delays occur. Then they disperse in various directions in cars, and major traffic jams occur on certain roads near the stadium.

    To empty a stadium with transit, curb space and road space are each at a premium. The only way to get road space is to get private autos out of the way (that means transit lanes, separated ROW, or serious carpool lanes — lots of people already carpool to stadiums, and setting an HOV limit high enough to ensure reasonable traffic flow in the lane could maybe be a winner). The curb space shortage probably requires speeding up boarding procedures (that means doing everything exactly the opposite of how we do it today, LOL), and maybe special stop arrangements or reroutings for game days — you can imagine the curb space in the area being arranged into stops for different routes, in such a way that you can easily draw up a diagram of it and post it on all the stadium-area bus stops, with a little LED signal indicating when this stop pattern is in effect.

  15. I am quite certain that Mr. Hanson (the man putting up $290M) did quite a bit of research on location. Probably looked at Bellevue as well as other possible sites. I think he made a good business decision and picked a good location. I agree with many posts above, on game day a .7 mi walk is normal. This adds about 18,000 seats to the current 100,000+, so the area and transportation infrastructure can easily handle it.

  16. Chalk up another vote in favor of the current location for all the reasons mentioned in previous posts.

    Also, I’d be curious to know if the city and Hansen could find a way to fund an infill station only used for events at the new arena.

    Of course this may all be much ado about nothing by now. Sounding lately like both Sac-town and New Orleans are keeping their teams.

  17. I generally agree with Sherwin based upon current conditions, but this is definitely a case where Seattle Subway would really make this work. With a 1st Ave S alignment toward West Seattle, we could have Stadium East (Busway and Royal Brougham) and Stadium West (1st Ave S & Atlantic?). We could demolish Key Arena in favor of lots of mid-rise apartments that the Seattle-LQA-Ballard segment would easily support. Major non-sports events (Joel Osteen, gag me, etc…) could then relocate to the new indoor arena. We then would then repurposed a major industrial area as a multi-use arena with 80 sporting events and numerous other concerts etc… while building the transit we need and getting new land in LQA for residential density. Dreaming perhaps, but it would work. Now if only Sounder could have a temporary platform near Holgate for game days… like Yawkey (Red Sox) or Foxboro (Patriots) stations in metro Boston.

    1. I think I read somewhere that wih the Sonics gone Key Arena is actually turning a profit (set scheduling means more stuff can be booked). Besides, where the Rat City Rollergirls gonna play?

      1. Well, there is the “OLD” Seattle Arena that seats about 5000. But I think it’s been shuttered for a long time.

  18. The “downtime” argument against stadiums is most compelling when they’re on their own, in this case there will be 3. Should the stadium be built and acquire at least an NBA team, downtime in the district would be fairly low. Obviously there would not be a game every day, but seasons which overlap to cover the entire calendar plus concerts plus Event Center plus (dare we dream) playoff games is a pretty healthy package. And lest we forget: were Hansen’s stadium to lure 2 teams and were the Sounders to retain a healthy chunk of their attendance numbers, that’s 5 teams with games to play (yes I’m best-casing here) in the same fairly small geographic area.

  19. In my opinion the best site is where the Sonics used to play, and I am not talking about the Kingdome.

    1. Well in that case , the incoming NHL team better play where the Metropolitans played! Knock down the IBM building!

      1. Ha Ha. Soooo funny…..You are a hoot. The Key Arena, aka Seattle Coliseum sight still exists, in case you are too dorky to have noticed/remembered.
        [ad hom]

      2. the Key Arena specs don’t work for the NHL–need at least 18,000 seats which it doesn’t have.

        Seattle or Bellevue is fine, just get the NHL here.

      3. Key Arena was inadequate for the NHL when it was remodeled. Ackereley was pushing for an NHL arena by the Kingdome back in the late 80s/early 90s, but he was screwed over when they decided to give Disney a team. But hey, I am just arguing with another Californicator who doesn’t know local history…

      4. KeyArena would have to undergo extensive renovation to accommodate the NHL, which means lowering the floor quite a bit, assuming you’re maintaining the existing roof structure.

  20. Just want to add a data point here: Allianz Arena, located on the fringe of Munich, is located 3/4 mile from its U-Bahn station. Of course this being Germany, they have a small switchyard and a stack of trains waiting for the fans at the end of games, and I bet a majority of fans arrive via transit.

    I was told they located it that far from the station on purpose so that the hoards of fans wouldn’t be stuck in the stadium as the people ahead of them boarded trains. I’m not sure if this is true, but maybe sports fans are more willing to walk than you think. As others have said, improving access to the nearest station (whether that is SODO or Stadium) would help, as would making one of the entrances face to the East.

    Maybe Northgate Mall would be an alternate location? Even downtown Bellevue wouldn’t be bad. Both places already have good bus capacity, probably already have enough parking capacity and will soon have good rail capacity. Maybe land price and municipal incentives are what it comes down to.

    1. Northgate is very much a residential area. The residents will bring pitchforks to hearings on the proposed arena and complain that it doesn’t fit with the character of the community.

  21. sports complexes alone don’t make for good urban amenities, especially since non-use most of the time creates large dead zones with little to no activity.

    That would be a NIMBY attitude except the Stadium District isn’t (yet) anybodies back yard and won’t be since the development for the football stadium is in the North Lot. One thing to consider is that being an indoor venue lends it’s self to far more events than just baszitball and fights-on-ice. Being close to DT would be important to drawing some of these events. One thing I worry about is the direct competition with the Seattle Center as I believe the two will be almost identical in seating capacity. In fact for B’ball it’s going to be about the same as the Tacoma Dome. What the area really could use is a ~30k seat arena for large concerts and things like a Final Four tournament. But that doesn’t seem to be the sweet spot for the sports franchised mentioned. Madison Square Garden is only 18-20k.

    1. Bernie, quite the contrary, NIMBYs don’t like activity, whether it’s a big arena or a pocket of skyscrapers.

      By the way, 20k seating for a basketball arena is actually more than plenty (Staples Center in LA is smaller than that). I agree that an indoor venue is more amenable to other uses, but as you say, with the allure of existing KeyArena, I find it hard to believe that this arena will do beyond what it’s being sold for.

      1. KeyArena would not even come close to being able to compete with a new start of the art facility.

        If a new arena is built, have a blog post ready about what to do with the land the Key sits on, because it will meet its demise rather quickly.

        As someone suggested above, a new mix of apartments, condos, etc would be great, and you could build a transit station underground before any of them go up.

      2. If the arena is going to host the NHL, you need a floor of about 18K seats for hockey since the larger ice rink takes up about 1500 or so more seats than B-Ball.

        The Key Arena was a cheap, fast and dirty rebuild on a revenue bond issue done to accommodate the Sonic fans that didn’t want the team to leave and satisfy the anti-sports people that did not want tax dollars going to subsidize a sports franchise owner.

  22. I think the stadium should be built as far from central Seattle as possible. At least five hundred miles, if possible.

    They can still name the team after Seattle, though; I don’t mind.

    1. Five hundred miles is, er, Montana or northern California.

      Mr Bailo called. He suggested a hundred miles or two hundred miles, with a high-speed rail line going to it.

  23. From anecdotal evidence, I have noticed a strong positive correlation between Sunday games and bus tardiness due to traffic. If you board a southbound 577 at 2nd & Pike at 4:44 p.m. on a game day and have a connecting bus leaving Federal Way at 5:24, odds are that you’ll miss your connection (usually by mere minutes) and spend 20-odd minutes (sometimes 29) waiting for the next bus. That is unacceptable. On a non-game day, the connection is almost always seamless except in case of mechanical malfunction or disruptive weather.

    In short, my view toward new sports stadiums in Seattle is this: No new stadiums until the Link network (HCT in exclusive ROW) is built out.

    And, yes, better walkability and amenities are important for the stadium area as well.

    1. I never understand why northbound buses don’t route around the stadium on game days. Any bus that goes north through that area is 30-45 minutes late when the game gets out. These are published events, route around them.

  24. One of the problems about using industiral land for this purpose is that it shrinks the available pool of industrial land for industrial uses. Couldent a deal be worked out to demolish key arena in favor of the new arena? Alternativly mabye a stub could be built from link to the new arena to faciltate special trains on game night.

    1. Those industries are long gone. We can build airplanes but the local shops supplying Boeing aren’t the big plants of the past but the small independent machinist than can adapt quickly. If Boeing needs big stuff done they’ll do in on the extensive property they already own. Infrastructure to get fans in and out of games could work nicely with routes to get freight from the docks to trains and cross country truckers. It also has the ferry connection to the peninsula which no other location can match.

      1. Sorry Bernie, but this is misguided. SODO was never just about Boeing. It was and is about all manner of light industrial, manufacturing, storage, distribution. It’s about dirty, smelly, grimy stuff that most people don’t want to be anywhere near. It is very un-glamorous but essential to our economy. But shortsighted people think encroaching residential or other non-industrial uses is ok for some reason.

      2. Other cities like Vancouver and San Francisco have completely converted their former industrial land to condos and urban-form big-box stores. Those are productive assets that reduce sprawl, but they leave the cities dangerously dependent on a limited variety of jobs (basically “paper pushing” jobs). A city with a diversified job base is a healthier city, one better able to absorb downturns. Seattle is fairly unusual now in having so much industry in the city limits. A large part of that is the Port and container ships, but the other part is all the small companies in SODO and Ballard that are doing their thing. Industrial-zoned land provides a low entry cost for new small businesses, which one day may become pivotal businesses in Seattle’s economy, as Starbucks did.

        There’s a great new book, “The Battle for Gotham”, by Roberta Gratz, that gives evidence for this. The author was a disciple of Jane Jacobs, and her family’s life makes concrete what Jacobs said in generalities. Her father had a dry-cleaning shop in Manhattan that was displaced by urban renewal in the 50s, and they moved to the burbs right at the beginning of the suburban explosion. She loved the city and moved back for college (NYU), and married a man who had a metalwork business in Manhattan. His factory also got displaced by urban renewal and he moved it to Queens. She assures us that the factory does a gangbusters job and has many diverse clients because many kinds of businesses need a custom metal something. Many such businesses can exist in a single multistory building, in different industries, and their proximity to each other makes it much easier get things done and to find an expert in whatever you need. In short, the small forgotten industries make the economy go round.

        Seattle is lucky to have so much industrial land, and that so much of it is active. Its proximity to downtown and transit is a good thing. We do need more housing and more urban villages, but we need to think hard before converting industrial land to it. Is the land really unproductive now, and will no future industries ever need it?

  25. Wouldn’t a Seattle-Vancouver BC Hockey rivalry be awesome? We have no regional sports rivalries.

  26. The proposed location is one of the best available in the entire region from a transit perspective, as it sits near the junction of the passenger rail lines serving the north, east, and south, and is close to the southern end of the DSTT which similarly radiates bus service to the rest of the region. No other location in the Puget Sound metropolitan area offers those kind of transit options.

    Century Link Field is clearly the best-situated to take advantage of that node. And Safeco Field is across the street from that, and the proposed arena would be across the street from that. A site nearer to King Street Station would be more ideal, but none seem to be available. The proposed location therefore seems sensible, even if it’s a bit of a hike. However, it would be a shorter walk from light rail than plenty of ferry-borne fans currently take from Colman Dock to the two existing stadia.

    This comes down to whether or not you think an arena is a good idea at all. I’m indifferent, but if one is going to be built, this seems the best possible location in the entire region – from a transit perspective. The alternative would be a greenfield site, but the NBA has decisively turned against those in favor of urban center locations (witness Sacramento), as have most sports leagues. That’s probably a good thing.

    An arena at this location would get a lot of people onto light rail who might otherwise never use it, which can only help build support for extending the existing system. Assuming an NBA team and maybe an NHL team can be brought here, which is a big assumption, the arena could be built and operating before 2016. Can’t hurt to have a whole bunch of new transit riders ahead of the ST3 vote.

  27. While I’m just plainly against another stadium (which is a completely different topic), the discussion of transit to/from the new ‘stadium belt’ is interesting. Sure – I’d love to see better transit and ped/bike access to/from that area. But what about transit/non-motorized access that BYPASSES the area or is required to go through the area en route to West Seattle, Georgetown, White Center, Burien, etc.? Traffic is already horrendous there (ever been there on a day with two different games AND ferry traffic stacked up?) and the new tunnel entrance/exit interchange will also be at Royal Brougham. There will be no way around it. Unless buses are given dedicated lanes on 1st or all moved to 4th (which isn’t exactly avoiding the area) transit access won’t be improved. And I’m not holding my breath on much transit improvements at all south of downtown. Planners can’t even comprehend the need for dedicated lanes (not only during rush hour) in the new waterfront configuration or on the new 99 (except for the entrance/exits).

  28. since the SODO station is pretty much worthless when it comes to actual use … would it be possible to move it closer to where this new stadium is planned to be?

    Or at the very least … could they add an extra station in-between Stadium and SODO that would only be in use when there is a game? lots of transit agencies have limited-use stations for stadiums … so ST wouldn’t be trying something new

  29. I wonder if better connections could be made between Stadium and SODO stations, and the sports facilities.

    I agree with some of the earlier statements that mentioned having the NHL and NBA in the same area as the MLB, MLS, and NFL will create a more year-round business support structure for the surrounding restaurants and bars. This would also incentivize development a few blocks further south.

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