What a new arena could mean for the Mariners

Feb 16, 2012, 5:37 PM | Updated: Feb 17, 2012, 1:05 am

By Shannon Drayer

It appears the Mariners could soon have some new neighbors in the SoDo district.

The team issued a statement following Thursday’s announcement that a proposal has been made to build a $500 million arena for an NBA and NHL team, saying that they were “excited” about the prospect of two new teams coming to the area and that from their perspective, “it is all about the fans and the community.”

The team said that while they were not prepared to comment further as they were not familiar with the details of the plan at this time, they were ready to participate “in the public process to make this a ‘win’ for the fans and to realize the many potential benefits for the region.”

It was good to see the team acknowledge the potential benefits for the region, especially when you take into consideration what a headache the arena could be for the team in the short-term. There have been questions about the scheduling for four teams in the area and the traffic that would come with that. I would think that the construction of the new arena would also impact traffic. It certainly won’t get easier to get to the ballpark. I imagine this would be a concern, along with parking implications and possible extra taxes that the Mariners and Seahawks would bring up as members of the public process.

To be clear, to date — and this has come down quickly — it appears neither team has been brought in or involved in the current talks.

Once the teams are in place in the new arena things could get very interesting. There could be an all-out battle for the Seattle sports fan’s dollars. A bigger battle will ensue over the corporate dollars. Remember, it is not only a potential NBA and NHL team that will have suites to sell but Huskies football as well in the renovated stadium. These are big dollars, very important to pro sports teams.

Ultimately, there should be benefits as the Mariners said in their statement and not just for the region. Mayor Mike McGinn sold the arena as an opportunity “to help our city recover from the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression.” Well, a healthy economy is good for sports franchises. A burgeoning SoDo district could be an actual draw to come to games.

Then there is the television money. With the four major pro sports teams as well as the Sounders and Storm (the Huskies will be part of the Pac-12 network) we could be that much closer to a regional sports network and the dollars that could bring. Would there be less money with more teams? Would there be any regional sports network if there were just the two major teams? Hard to say, but the potential for bigger dollars would be there.

It is early in the process but the potential is certainly there for this to be good for the Mariners.

No starting pitcher.

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