As most Gen Xers who grew up here can attest, there was a time when little else could rival the spectacle and the excitement of the Seattle SuperSonics in the late 1980s and 90s. It was the Payton-Kemp era, and I would wager to say that duo could hold their own against any other NBA matchup ever.
I still hope to one day see NBA players wearing Sonics uniforms again, as Squatch throws down some halftime trampoline jams.
In order for that to happen though, we need a world-class facility to house them along with a possible NHL team, as well as any future Pearl Jam concerts.
The NBA has said that Key Arena as it stands is not sufficient, which means a complete and costly overhaul on the property will be necessary.
Then there’s the other option: the SODO proposal.
It is my opinion that a SODO arena is the best option for the city, and I support the proposal over a Key Arena alternative. The growth in South Lake Union and the Seattle Center area has been explosive over the past ten years, and it’s been encouraging to see this part of our City attract the economic development that it has. The density in this part of our City is already creating strains on infrastructure. This infrastructure would be strained to the max were an NBA team to take up home at a new arena located there. Let’s not forget that the NBA or NHL wouldn’t just draw fans in Seattle who could find alternative ways to the games - a plausible fan base for these teams could stretch 60-80 miles in every direction from the arena, adding possibly thousands more vehicles to our downtown roads.
SODO is the one area of the city that is accustomed to a massive influx of people on a regular basis, and has the infrastructure to handle it, from light rail and mass transit to parking. That, in my mind, is enough reason to pick SODO over Seattle Center. I believe we can install another world-class facility, and with added investments in our freight mobility infrastructure, we can minimize any impacts on the commerce flowing in and out of the Port of Seattle.
To be clear, I am happy to see progress being made on the future of Key Arena, it's an asset to this city that needs to be modernized and utilized to its fullest potential. While the outgoing administration is pursuing a Key Arena solution, there is still another proposal on the table. I also believe the SODO option is the most likely to result in an NBA team. Both proposals come with pros and cons and challenges that need to be resolved. The next mayor, working in partnership with the city council, will need to carry on this work and assess what's in the best interest of the city and region through an open and accountable process.
As I’ve done with my positions throughout this campaign, I strive for my thinking to be transparent to voters in this vitally important election for our City’s future and vow to work with the community, always welcoming their input and feedback on our shared vision for the City. At the time of the SODO team's original proposal, I didn't feel there was adequate mitigation for freight mobility but I still believe it’s a better alternative than the Key Arena proposal. We can make SODO work with added investments in freight mobility to ensure commerce isn't disrupted at the Port.