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Originally published Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 7:24 PM

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Not so fast, say foes of the Sodo arena deal

In a letter to the Seattle City Council, the maritime leaders object to the "irreversible momentum" for a Sodo location and say the site is clearly preferred by the city, despite assertions that alternate sites will be evaluated in an environmental review.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A group of maritime-business leaders and the Seattle Mariners renewed their objections to a proposed sports arena in Sodo on Wednesday, a day after city leaders revealed a revised agreement they say addresses those concerns.

"We thought they were doing what we requested, but the MOU (memorandum of understanding) doesn't match that," said Jordan Royer, vice president with the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

In a letter to the Seattle City Council, the maritime leaders object to the "irreversible momentum" for a Sodo location and say the site is clearly preferred by the city, despite assertions that alternative sites will be evaluated in an environmental review.

Investor Chris Hansen, a San Francisco hedge-fund manager who grew up in Seattle, has spent $51 million on land in Sodo and has said he's not interested in building at a different site.

The letter is signed by representatives of the Seattle Mariners, the Manufacturing Industrial Council, environmental attorney Peter Goldman and Royer's group.

A revised MOU with Hansen to build a new $490 million arena was released Tuesday by Seattle City Council members who had helped revise the deal, presented in February by Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine.

The new agreement created a $40 million transportation fund to address freight mobility in Sodo, one of the main objections of the Port of Seattle and maritime businesses.

The agreement also said final approval of a site wouldn't be given until a detailed environmental-impact statement was completed and alternative sites evaluated.

The review, expected to take about a year, also would determine the arena's impact on Port of Seattle business and require Hansen to address those.

But in their letter, the Sodo representatives say the revised agreement "clearly preselects a location and only pays lip service" to a state environmental review.

Councilmember Mike O'Brien, who helped negotiate the revised agreement, said he disagreed with the letter's analysis.

"To enter into a SEPA (State Environmental Protection Act) process, you have to have a project in mind," O'Brien said.

He added that council members want to see in-depth analyses of a variety of sites, including KeyArena.

In a meeting with The Seattle Times editorial board Tuesday to explain the revised agreement, Burgess was asked about the Mariners' opposition to the Sodo location for a new arena.

"I'm not holding my breath that they'll suddenly embrace competition next door," Burgess said.

The council's Government Performance and Finance Committee will vote on the revised agreement at 2 p.m. Thursday, likely sending it to the full council for ratification, possibly on Sept. 24.

In their letter, the Sodo opponents asked the council to allow more time for public review and possible amendments to the agreement.

Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or lthompson@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @lthompsontimes.

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