Thursday, May 24, 2012

Port of Seattle Cautions Against Arena Plan

The Port of Seattle is attempting to rain on newly-announced plans by the city to build a sports arena near port property, saying that such a venue would harm the port’s growth plans.

In a letter sent May 22 to the Seattle City and Metropolitan King County councils, the port said that a proposal on the table to build an 18,000-seat hockey and basketball arena in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood in the Industrial District would conflict with the port’s own Century Agenda, under which it plans to generate 100,000 new jobs for the area within the next 25 years.

Under the arena plan, which was announced May 16, developer Chris Hansen would build a $490 million sports and entertainment complex in SoDo. Under the agreement, the city would buy the land from Hansen for up to $100 million and Hansen and ArenaCo would privately finance the arena’s construction.

In its letter, the port urged that city and county officials proceed with caution.

“The developer has presented no compelling policy or business justification for urgent action on a proposal that has not been fully studied and could weaken port/industrial businesses,” the letter, which was signed by all five members of the port commission, reads in part. “We ask you to proceed cautiously and deliberately as you consider this proposal.”

The letter goes on to state, among other things, that the port’s “disappointed” that baseline data for the impact the project would have on traffic in the area hasn’t been generated.