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Port of Seattle representatives, labor urge caution on proposed SODO Arena


Transportation infrastructure major reservation to location of facility


Transportation infrastructure was the major concern of a panel of Port of Seattle representatives and labor officials who met with the Metropolitan King County Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee today. Each speaker stressed that their objection to the location of the proposed SODO arena is based on a transportation corridor that can’t accommodate current traffic levels, let alone the impact the new facility would have in the vital economic corridor.

“This panel of experts representing the economic interests in the SODO manufacturing and industrial area raised compelling questions and concerns about the impacts of the arena proposal on transportation congestion, global competitiveness, and jobs,” said Committee Chair Larry Phillips. “We now have the responsibility to look out for our future by ensuring their concerns are vetted by independent experts and adequately addressed prior to approving any arena proposal.”

Port of Seattle Commissioner Tom Albro and Port CEO Tay Yoshitani were joined by Dave Gering of the Manufacturing Industrial Council of Seattle, ILWU Local 19 President Cameron Williams, and Washington State Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board Chair Dan Gatchet.

All spoke in support of private investor Christopher Hansen’s effort to return an NBA franchise back to Seattle. Hansen has negotiated a memorandum of understanding with County Executive Constantine and Seattle Mayor McGinn on a proposal to construct a new arena in Seattle’s Stadium District with the ability to host NBA and NHL teams.

The concern voiced by all panelists was that a transportation corridor vital to the operation of the Port—and already in need of infrastructure upgrades—would come to a standstill with the introduction of more traffic that would be generated by events at the new arena.

“As a community, we need to consider how this proposal could impact the maritime industry in our region—an industry responsible for 33,000 jobs and $3 billion in revenue,” said Port CEO Yoshitani.

“Ports are strategic economic assets for our state,” said Commission Albro. “Through our ‘Century Agenda,’ we are working to generate 100,000 jobs. That’s a goal we can achieve only if we think strategically in this region.”

“We can build an arena anywhere, but we can’t rebuild a world class deep water port terminal anywhere,” said ILWU Local 19 President Williams.

Dick Ford, Chair of the Washington State Transportation Commission, provided a letter outlining his personal opinion as Seattle citizen stating, “[This arena proposal] requires, as any similar project would, a full, independent and complete EIS which clearly identifies impacts on transportation, air quality, parking and the survival of major economic drivers in the region. It also requires a look at alternative arena locations. An arena might thrive in several locations, but water-dependent business must be based on the harbor.”

While recommending that other locations be consider for the arena, all the speakers urged the County Council to be deliberative in the vetting process on Hansen’s proposal. Committee members responded that a thorough review of the plan is underway and that no timetable has been sent on the final decision.

“If the question is do we want the NBA and NHL in our region, the answer is emphatically yes,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. “Adding a third stadium in the SODO District will impact many different players in our region, and I believe that we need to do our due diligence to be certain that it’s the best proposal and site for everyone involved.”

“Today’s briefing was another opportunity for the Council to continue our thoughtful deliberations of the proposed arena plan,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott. “I look forward to our upcoming conversation and analysis of the transportation impacts during the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee meeting on Thursday.”

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