Seattle councilmember says despite vote against arena, she still likes shiny things

One of the Seattle councilmembers who voted to block Chris Hansen’s SoDo arena plans on Monday attempted to explain her vote to KING 5’s Chris Daniels yesterday:

“I had to balance fact and fiction,” [Debora Juarez] told KING 5. “The fiction is a third arena and no NBA team, and a living breathing port with people and jobs and traffic, and that’s what concerned me the most.”…

“I really, really want a basketball team in this town,” Juarez said.

“I went to Sonics games. I want a shiny new arena in this town, I just don’t believe it belongs in SoDo.”…

However, the North Seattle district representative says she’s not about to push for a Key Arena remodel.  Juarez, who chairs the Council committee overseeing Seattle Center, says it has issues too.

“The zoning would have to change dramatically in that neighborhood, and I cannot see those neighbors saying wider streets, more upzoning, more parking, more congestion,” said Juarez about Seattle Center. “It’s reached a point in its life where it’s become a public space, a public park, a cultural icon, and that’s why I would like to see a brand new shiny arena somewhere else”.

So: Juarez likes basketball, and likes shiny things, but didn’t like this shiny thing, because it might not have basketball and also JOBS! And TRAFFIC! That’s clear as … something not very shiny.

Proponents of the arena responded in appropriately measured tones:

There’s still a chance that this eventually leads to everyone taking a step back and figuring out what makes the most sense for Seattle, outside the emotional debates about bringing back the Sonics. But for the moment, the future looks not very shiny at all.

23 comments on “Seattle councilmember says despite vote against arena, she still likes shiny things

  1. To be honest taking a step back means 2030. If I invested my time money and effort like Chris Hanson did, I would not be happy and if I was a prospective Chris Hanson and ( or) Professional Sports League I am not even considering Seattle for at least another Decade. As for the Key Arena if there will not be a sports team there it makes no sense doing an upgrade beyond basic replacements ( seating lighting ADA and other Government mandates). B

    • Chris Hansen chose to go after City money (well, bonding authority, but that still results in money in his pocket) and that means abiding by City rules. A street vacation for a specific site before a preferred site is selected (a technicality, but a meaningful one) is hard to justify without a team, plan to get a team, or even the NBA saying a team could be available. There’s still nothing stopping him from funding the proposed stadium himself.

      • Wrong– he can’t build an arena, no matter the funding source, without Occidental street being vacated. This city council vote had everything to do with stopping an arena at this site (due to very specious Port claims, in my opinion), and not much, if any at all, to do with the funding deal put together in the MOU.

        • If it’s such a good deal then Chris Hansen can do it without help from the city or county. By the time Chris Hansen and his partners pay nearly $1 billion for either expansion or relocation and contribute to an arena, expect that $200 million city/county contribution to become permanent. It doesn’t pencil out without it.

    • He’d still need to get the council to vacate the street, with or without city funding, no?

      • Yep– his properties are on two sides of that street, and he needs a vacation for any arena. This is an area that’s zoned for sports stadiums, by the way.

        • He’d have a much better shot (not certain of course) at getting the vacation without city funding, as there would only be one site to consider and a set commitment to build.

          Although, I wonder if the greater damage to a possible arena is the just awful behavior of proponents (as linked above). These 5 CMs will certainly remember the abuse the next time this comes up.

      • No. He could do the proposed Mavericks route and build the stadium on stilts where the street below is still in operation. Or maybe as a suspension bridge across the gap, like Barttle Hall in Kansas City. Or build the entire stadium below ground and have the street sill run above.

        There are options just none of either cheap or pretty.

        • It’s like maybe he should have worked a little faster on the street vacation so it wouldn’t be 4+ years after announcing their arena plan while already having purchased land.

  2. An interesting wrinkle (to me at least) is how the killing of the arena (in the section of the city that is zoned for stadiums) will affect the NBA’S efforts to use Seattle as leverage to extract public dollars from other cities. I imagine Seattle is much less a threat now.

    • I disagree. The MOU still has a few years left, and during that time, if Hansen came back to the City Council with a team literally in his grasp, I think the momentum could easily swing the council back the other way to vacate the street. With no team, there was no sense of urgency on the part of the council.

      Once Hansen’s MOU expires, there’ll probably be other Seattle-area groups emerging (Ray Bartoszek is already in the planning stages in the suburb of Tukwila).

      Seattle will always be a leverage city until we get a team.

      • I don’t disagree. I guess in my mind if I was being threatened with the NBA working something out with the Seattle City Council I would just laugh.

        I do like the idea of the Tukwila arena as I want hockey and work very near there.

    • There really aren’t that many cities left to use Seattle as leverage for. When Milwaukee and Sacramento got their arenas done, it pretty much put an end to NBA relocation rumors.

  3. If another re-do of Key Arena doesn’t excite them, have they floated a tear down, or building a second arena at that location. Like the Opera House/Arena deal (20 years late) in St. Louis.

    • The Seattle Center area is a terrible place for a modern NBA arena. The traffic is a nightmare. It’s in a crowded residential and commercial area, with basically only one major street (Mercer) through the South Lake Union area to access I-5. The South Lake Union area has been radically gentrified since the Sonics left, as high-tech employers like Amazon has moved in and condos have sprung up everywhere instead of warehouses. A light rail station is expected to reach the Seattle Center area no sooner than 25 years from now (seriously, that’s the plan).

      To me, a Seattleite, any redo of KeyArena is beyond stupid. It hints at the nostalgia and provincialism that gridlocks our city governments. It needs to go somewhere else, if nothing else than simply because of traffic.

      The SoDo area was perfect because it was near light rail, it was near both I-5 and I-90, in an area with room to grow, and in an area already zoned for stadiums. If we as a city can’t build an arena in a neighborhood called the Stadium District, it’s obvious they just don’t want an area anywhere, period.

  4. The 5 Broads should be investigated for corruption probably have Port of Seattle $$$ in their pocket and or their just really stupid and hopefully this will be their last term on council.

    • Well, Sawant is trying to live in Seattle while only taking home $40k of her council paycheck… but I think she’s aware taking money from an organization she speaks against the leadership of would be political suicide.

  5. That posted email makes me dread the next 6 months of vitriol that will mark this presidential election. I hope it can be a reminder for us FoS followers to keep ourselves in check.

    • On the business side, I forgot to add…..

      Looks like the Niners and Santa Clara are at odds over rent and its going to arbitration.

      The Niners want a reduction now given the stadium revenues coming in over projections. The city isn’t satisfied with the Niners’ number crunching. Niners want to pay $19M/yr instead of $24.5M/yr and also complain that all the other kids are paying their parents less than they are:

      “The 49ers management also claimed the team pays too much in rent, saying the Dallas Cowboys pay $2 million a year and the Atlanta Falcons pay $2.5 million for their stadiums.”

  6. Oh my, I didn’t realize that the e-mail was actually a sanitized version. Apparently a “Jason” with a very similar letter is having a bar complaint filed for their comment (which opens with suggesting women spend time on knees pleasing others and refers to 30 pieces of silver payoffs).

  7. I’m not sure why people think this will affect Seattle’s standing at all.

    Speculative project in a booming city fundamentally based on speculative projections of the actions of outside actors. Project would have at least some impact on an actual working area of the city and would be redundant on already existing infrastructure.

    Think about how hard it is to build a new arena in say New York, San Francisco, or Boston (the last one has built one new sports structure within the city in the last 50 years, on top of a train station). Wealthy, confident cities don’t need or want half-baked proposals with the usual “sports create jobs” baloney. They want something ready to work right now and at low cost.

  8. If it’s such a great deal, then Chris Hansen should build it without city and county $$$.