SEATTLE - The Seattle Mariners are against a plan to bring an NBA-NHL arena to Seattle's SODO neighborhood across the street from Safeco Field.
The Mariners said an arena in that location would bring scheduling, traffic and parking challenges that would cost millions of dollars to mitigate.
The team's opposition was spelled out in a letter sent Tueday from Mariners Chairman and CEO Howard Lincoln to city officials.
"We strongly support the return of the NBA to Seattle, and would welcome the addition of an NHL hockey team ... (but) the proposed SODO location, in our view, simply does not work," Lincoln wrote. "Without highly restrictive scheduling limitations, traffic gridlock would put all of the area's teams at risks."
KIRO 7 previously reported that traffic would be a major concern in bringing an arena to SODO (emphasis added):
The Transportation Management Program (TMP) to study traffic impact is required of businesses and developers before building an establishment.
For the last 8 months, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has been trying to get a facility built in SoDo.
Both CenturyLink and Safeco fields filed the TMP, which stated that both venues would need to have the end time of one event and the start time of another to be four hours apart to allow traffic to clear. The TMP is required by the City of Seattle, but factoring in the NBA and NHL schedules with Sounders, Mariners, Seahawks and other events would be difficult.
A spokesperson for Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development said that there hasn’t been a traffic study ordered for a new arena site in SoDo.
KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Essex Porter spoke with McGinn who said that Tuesday was the first time he’s read the specific concerns from the Mariners and promised to work with them on the issues.
He pointed out that the NBA arena would be built in Seattle's specially designated Stadium District, which already underwent a review of traffic concerns when it was created, and noted there are recent highway and light rail improvements to the area.
“We've got a promising opportunity in front of us and as mayor, we're going to work with the Mariners and their concerns, we'll work with the concerns raised by any group around how we make this project work for existing businesses in Seattle, but we also have to work to make sure we take advantage of a really good opportunity, a promising opportunity to bring the NBA back to Seattle,” said McGinn.
McGinn would not speculate on the outcome of the arena review process that will be announced Wednesday.