• City Council vote stuns Sonics Arena supporter

    By: Essex Porter

    Updated:
    SEATTLE -

    Supporters of a new arena in the SODO neighborhood knew the vote was going to be close, but the decision was still a stunner.

    By 5 to 4, vote the Seattle City Council rejected arena developer Chris Hansen's request to sell him the part of Occidental Avenue South he needed for the arena.

    In a statement after the vote, Mayor Ed Murray said, “The City’s past actions contributed to the Sonics leaving Seattle. Today’s Council vote makes it less likely that the NBA will return to the City of Seattle.”

    Fans energized since Hansen proposed the plan four years ago were shocked today.

    “I think it's going to be another 20 years now,” said a dejected Jason Billingsley.

    Joe Chong added, “I mean I don't want to give up on the dream but it's just not getting any easier if we are going to keep delaying and delaying and delaying.”

    Council member Tim Burgess said the agreement struck the right balance and said none of the councilmembers would do anything to take away from Seattle’s maritime industries.

    Still, maritime unions and the Port of Seattle opposed further encroachment on industrial land and said arena traffic would slow down Port operations.

    Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez cast the decisive vote.

     Another design issue that could come up is how to get people to the arena on the property and help them safely cross railroad tracks, which are used by the Sounder train, Link Light Rail and Amtrak. 

    “I don't think the traffic issues have been well dealt with and today I am going to vote no on this request,” she said to both jeers and applause.

    In his statement Mayor Murray indicated a new Sonics and hockey arena would more likely be built in the Seattle suburbs.

    “I firmly believe that a new arena will be built that brings the NBA and NHL to our region, he said.

    On Monday night Chris Hansen released a statement:

    "Today’s City Council vote was disappointing but we don’t believe it is the end of the road in our quest to bring the NBA and NHL back to Seattle. We know all the fans who have stood solidly by us these past years share our disappointment but it is important that we all stay focused on our shared goal.

    "We now need to take a little time to step back and evaluate our options, better understand the council’s concerns and find a path forward. We will keep you posted."
     

     

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