NBA

SoDo Arena Group submits new request for City to vacate crucial block of Occidental Avenue

Feb 8, 2017, 3:26 PM | Updated: 4:09 pm
The SoDo Arena Group has submitted an updated proposal for building a new arena. (www.Sonicsarena.c...
The SoDo Arena Group has submitted an updated proposal for building a new arena. (www.Sonicsarena.com)
(www.Sonicsarena.com)

The SoDo Arena Group, led by investor Chris Hansen, is once again asking the City of Seattle to vacate a block of Occidental Avenue to make way for a new arena.

Hansen’s group announced Wednesday that it has filed a new petition with the Seattle Department of Transportation to vacate the street in SoDo. The Council voted in May to reject a petition from Hansen to give up the street despite his willingness to pay millions of dollars to cover it. Opposition was fueled in large part by the Port of Seattle, which argued the street vacation would hamper operations and snarl traffic, as well as the major sports tenants of CenturyLink and SafecoField. Since then, the City began taking bids to renovate KeyArena, with two major players involved.

Related: One Seattle street remains key to unlocking arena

Hansen, however, has offered to privately finance the entire SoDo project, and leave Occidental Avenue alone, unless he secures an NBA or NHL team and he has offered to cover a benefits package of almost $27 million, the funding gap to pay for a long-delayed Lander Street overpass. The new petition also includes the announcement of a “scheduling agreement” with the Seahawks, Mariners and Sounders, “ensuring no major event will occur at the arena at any time that overlaps with major events at Safeco Field or CenturyLink Field.”

There has been no reaction yet from the City Council. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who recently joined the Hansen Group, met with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Tuesday and said in a tweet afterward that a new arena was discussed.

Hansen wrote that the new petition incorporates all amendments to the previous petition considered by the City Council, and builds on it with the following important differences:

• The arena will be 100 percent privately financed;

• Traffic improvements: The group will contribute an additional $1.3 million to implement several SDOT projects in the 2016 Freight Master Plan – on top of the benefits recommended by SDOT and Seattle Design Commission;

• No team means no arena, means no street vacation: There will be no vacation unless and until an NHL or NBA team is acquired and the arena is under construction. If a team isn’t acquired and the arena project does not get built in this location, the street will not be vacated;

• Joint scheduling agreement with the Mariners, Seahawks and Sounders.

Meanwhile, on the hockey front

The Glendale Star newspaper reported that representatives of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes hockey team have toured KeyArena in Seattle and the Moda Center in Portland in the past three months. The newspaper cites officials in Seattle and Portland for the information. According to NBC Sports, the Coyotes are denying the report.

NBC reports that the Coyotes’ plans to build a new arena in Tempe recently fell through and, although the team has publicly committed to keeping the franchise in Arizona, Seattle and Portland have long been rumored as potential landing spots for the Coyotes.

KIRO Radio’s Josh Kerns contributed to this story.

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SoDo Arena Group submits new request for City to vacate crucial block of Occidental Avenue