Archive for April, 2012

After months of warm, fuzzy feelings about the proposed new arena in south downtown Seattle, someone voiced opinions that were viewed as being the complete opposite.  The Seattle Mariners’ concerns are very valid if you ask me.  Absolutely no where are they on record as saying they do not want another arena – it’s just arena supporters trying to put a spin on their statements.  All they brought up was potential issues with where it would be built.

The Mariners have publicly come out to say they don’t support the location of the proposed new arena.  That desired location would be just a couple of blocks south of Safeco Field – the M’s home (which of course is next door to the other stadium – CenturyLink Field – home of the Seahawks).  Personally, I agree with everything the Mariners organization had to say because their main concerns are from the traffic standpoint.

My very first thought a few months ago when word of the arena broke (again) was how crappy that location would be.  The main reason I don’t go to Mariner games more often is because of how big of a pain in the ass it can be to get to the stadium district.  Then what happens when people get there?  Will another parking structure be built?  Or a large parking lot on the site?  I know there are garages at both of the existing stadiums, but each of them can only hold 2,000 vehicles.  Assuming this is (on the low end) an 18,000 seat barn and there are at least two people in each vehicle that leaves another 5,000 vehicles looking for parking.  There are numerous parking lots but games would be during Winter months and most attendees would definitely prefer being under cover.  Now factor in two of those buildings in use at the same time.  Yes, it isn’t very often that events would be going on simultaneously, but that brings up the other valid point from the Ms: the scheduling of events.

While I don’t know the exact legal terms and conditions, the city has regulations on what games/events can and can’t be going on at the same time in the stadiums (to my knowledge games can’t be doubled-up but other events can such as years past with Ms at Safeco and Supercross across the street or a game in one stadium and an event in the CenturyLink Events Center).  There are also conditions regulating how many day games the Mariners can host during the season.  As far as we know, the exact list of these “dos and don’ts” could be pages upon pages in length and that’s when there are only two buildings involved.  With the new arena, that would require a third building thrown into the mix with lots of rewriting and head-scratching over amendments to the current regulations.

All of that brings us to the fact that all of these points only pertain to events specifically related to the sports venues.  What about all of the everyday happenings such as already established businesses and the Port of Seattle also being a huge player in that neighborhood?  The only shining light out of this whole situation is that we are only in the thought process of the planning stages.  There are still many months – if not years – to get it all ironed out.  My big question that comes from all of this is do we really need to build another arena?  Sure Seattle is a solid sports city/market but do we really need two stadiums and two arenas?  Key Arena is essentially done for as their only tenants are the Storm of the WNBA.  Why spend all of this money on a new building when maybe half to three-quarters of that money could be put toward completely revamping the existing arena?  It would be a cost effective move and with a private investor in the mix it could work to the advantage of keeping running costs/rent fees down.

In the end though, what do I know?  I’m not a politician or a millionaire.  I have no say in zoning laws or event regulations.  I don’t have the pocket book to fund the cure-all for any potential traffic snarls.  But what I do have is a love for the sport of hockey and the desire to have a team (somewhere) in the area.  I am a Mariners fan (though sometimes that’s hard to admit) and their comments this week do nothing to change my opinion of them.  As it plays out, I definitely foresee the arena being built in the stadium district.  I see as much money – if not more in the long run – spent on traffic studies and solutions than on the building.

In the meantime, let’s support the idea of an arena whether it’s built new or a redone current facility.  Let’s continue to support all of the teams and organizations affected by any future decisions.  Each one of us is a fan of sports and there’s no denying that we all win by helping our area professional sports scene grow.

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