To SoDo or not to SoDo, that is the question.

This started out as a response to comments on Jon Benne's post and just got too large as a comment. So I decided to put into a FanPost. I thought this might be a topic for another day, but I guess maybe it is better now after all.

I’m thankful to Chris Hansen and his group for their efforts on behalf of Seattle and Washington. But I wanted to talk about the arena site placement, not the team (s) here. I’m talking about where the arena would best be placed and utilized over decades. This type of arena could of course be primarily used as a sports venue. But it will likely also be used for concerts, the circus, pro wrestling, tractor pulls and other group gatherings. The key for me is where and in what neighborhood it would best be placed. Okay maybe lawn tractor pulls.

SoDo is already and would continue to be a commercial/industrial area. There have been concerns raised by businesses and the port about the arenas placement in the SoDo area. From Wikipedia; in early April 2012, the Seattle Mariners and Port of Seattle were the first two organizations to publicly oppose the arena proposal.16 Both sent strongly worded letters to the city and county arguing the location would negatively impact their business. The Mariners argued that "scheduling, traffic and parking challenges that would likely require hundreds of millions of dollars to mitigate." The Port raised concerns regarding transportation and infrastructure, land use, and asked for an alternative site analysis. On July 7, 2012, the Seattle Times wrote an editorial opposing the arena proposal writing, "The glittering offer should be turned down with a resolute ‘no thanks.’"18 The paper argued that the location would be too detrimental to the business of Port of Seattle and other companies in the industrial area.

If you wanted to go with your wife and kids into that area for a night winter game in say…I dunno, right now or February with ice on the streets you’re going to be going home late at night. You would have to walk to your car and drive home. Oh and you would have to get up and go to work the next day, during the work week. Or worse, you would have to trudge over to King St. station 6 blocks away. How about if your teenage daughter wants to go with her friends to a concert at the arena in that area and your wife has to pick them up late at night. Yeah it was that way at Key arena too, of course, but that is a better area than SoDo. Yeah, I know it’s kinda of a frighty-cat approach to look at it that way, until it’s too late to change the location or the consequences of a bad site. I would like to see them get it right 1st for sure.

I moved away from Seattle 13 years ago and I’m probably less familiar with a lot of the areas of “my” hometown than I once was. But I still remember a lot about downtown too. There were/are some pretty creepy places in downtown especially at night and especially at night in the winter south of downtown. I lived in and around Seattle for 25 years and I had driving delivery jobs in downtown. I am sure the vibe in and around Safeco and the Clink are great. In fact I know it is, because all you folks that have attended games have told me it is. But a winter sports arena in the SoDo area even farther south seems like a poor placement of a public mixed use destination facility to me.

I made this comment on Jon Benne's post;

Topic for another day: I know this is all but said and done, but the location of the new basketball/hockey arena.

I’ve thought about this for awhile and I wouldn’t even broach the subject except for the recent mention of how poorly placed the Coyote hockey arena and Cardinals football stadium were sited here in the Phx area. A poor location will impact for decades.

I’ve thought that placing the arena directly above the transit station in downtown Seattle would be a perfect location. In a location with a built in transit station ala Madison Square Garden. Close proximity to the convention center for multi-use events. Hotels, restaurants, historic Paramount theatre across the street and with a little elevation, views of lake union and the space needle. It could be turned into an absolute Seattle destination location.

The reason I think downtown is better is for the reasons I stated elsewhere plus. It’s a quick on and off transit location where it would hopefully be safer, certainly it would be easier and cheaper to keep secure. Parking for those that must drive could be built into the facility, which as I said would help with elevating the arena level for views and sight lines. The proximity to the convention center would greatly help attract more and bigger business conventions. Its closeness to the major hotels would help with those conventions also because there are no hotels nice or otherwise in the SoDo area south of Safeco.

If Sound Transit at King St station is heavy rail or light rail and you had to change to a bus or trolley to get to the convention center station, I would understand the hardship in that. But light rail goes to Westlake center and appears to be equal distance station to location as SoDo. And light rail may run thru the convention center station at some point (I will have to verify that with Sound Transit). But as with games at Key arena a SoDo arena a block south of Safeco field is not a convenient safe walk to the King St station. Maybe an arena directly above the tracks at King St station, but that would not afford all the advantages of the convention center station site that I’ve talked about. The arena will be King County’s after Chris Hansen relinquishes control. I would prefer it be placed for best effective utilization.

There might be all kinds of other reasons for and against a convention center transit station site, but I think it would be worthwhile to consider it. It would provide more and varied use for a public facility for a longer period of time if placed somewhere other than the currently proposed location. And I really think it would be safer too. Thanks and as always, Go Hawks.

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