By BRENDIN NILSEN ’16
The approval of the SoDo arena environmental impact study was the glimmer of hope that Seattle basketball and hockey fans have long awaited. As it turns out, it may not end up meaning a whole lot in the end. With another investor ready to build an arena in Tukwila, the controversial arena that Chris Hansen wanted to build in SoDo may be doomed.
According to the Seattle Times, investors Ray Bartoszek, Bill Russell, Fred Brown and Jerry Lee lead the Tukwila arena proposal. You may remember Ray Bartoszek because of his attempt to move the Phoenix Coyotes to Seattle in 2013.
The Tukwila arena proposal is noteworthy for a few reasons. First, sports fans south of Seattle will be very pleased. Second, there will be no impact on the Port of Seattle. Finally, this arena would be 100% privately funded.
One of the biggest problems that Seattle has faced in their attempt to attract a professional basketball or hockey team is that we have no arena to house a team. Without a team though, the mayor and Seattle City Council aren’t willing to provide public funding for an arena. A privately funded arena would be the most seamless and timely option to bring the Sonics back to the Pacific Northwest. With the construction of an arena able to begin without public funding, bringing in a sports franchise should be easy.
The Tukwila option also provides a greater deal of transportation options to fans than the SoDo arena. The Tukwila arena site is next to I-5, SR-167, I-405, Sounder rail and transit. These options far outweigh the traffic disaster that is Seattle. The only people who will not be happy are those who live north of Seattle and have to drive a little further to see their favorite team.
Fans wanted the Sonics back years ago. The Tukwila arena proposal is the fastest way to bring the NBA back to Seattle and is the best way to attract an NHL team. Even though there is much work to be done on this project, the future of Seattle sports just got a little brighter.