Chris Hansen's SoDo Arena proposal has its fair share of detractors. The Port of Seattle has a legitimate gripe. Some taxpayers are concerned about how much of a bill they'll have to foot. Non-sports fans don't really see what the big deal is. Having covered the arena plan from its very beginning to the present day, we've had the chance to see the whole story unfold. We also can't help but notice that The Seattle Times seriously has a bug up its butt about the arena proposal and is doing its damnedest to try to make sure it doesn't happen.
While their news section covers the ongoing meetings, discussions, debates and concerns as you'd hope a news organization would, the editorial board and opinion columns are another matter.
You can go back to 2012 when they asked "Why the big rush?" A few months later they deemed the arena "wrong location, bad plan." When the Kings decided to stay in Sacramento instead of coming to Seattle, they blamed the location of the potential arena as the reason (which was 100 percent untrue). They were pretty happy to talk up Tukwila and Bellevue alternatives. They called the arena "dead" in April 2015. A May 2015 editorial board opinion flat out said the entire deal should be "waved off." In November they started pimping a renovated KeyArena as an alternative and crying foul when it seemed as though the KeyArena benefits were the ones that got "waved off". Geoff Baker has been doing his best to find potential cracks in the SoDo plan, be it because of KeyArena, the mayor or even President Obama. They've dug in so hard against the arena that even city council members are calling them out for it.
All of which brings us to a March 15 public meeting at which the city is considering whether to vacate a stretch of Occidental Avenue South that Hansen would need to build his arena plan. If approved, union groups and Port of Seattle interests intend to appeal as is their right. Not one to just let things play out, the Seattle Times threw themselves across Occidental Avenue in an attempt to save it, nay, the very soul of Seattle itself.
Vacating the street is a point of no return. It’s when Murray and the council would show whether they have the courage to challenge a flawed project that would congest and jeopardize what’s left of the region’s waterfront industrial zone. Or would they rather hand over an irreplaceable street and subsidize what’s become a pipe dream for hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen, who appears unlikely to secure an NBA team before his arena deal expires in 2017?
Throwing around "point of no return" and "courage" imply something life or death is about to take place. This street must be one of the most essential streets in the entire city.
Ian from KJR's Ian & Puck Show decided to see for himself just how "irreplacable" that block of Occidental Avenue is for Seattle. The results were...quite replaceable.
The pictures were taken in a ten minute span from 11:20-11:30 a.m. while few cars drove by and the street was mostly used as a parking lot.
Pretty sure this street can't be the point of no return because no one seems to actually drive on it enough to require a return trip.
Of course, that's not the point. Anytime the city cedes control of a street to a private entity it deserves to be debated and put before the public. That will happen and the Seattle City Council will make their decision.
As for the Seattle Times, it might be time for the organization to realize that such a strong editorial attack on this proposal isn't exactly the way to change hearts and minds, especially when it comes to the potential return of the Sonics. Because at this point, who's going to believe their opinion is anything but tainted?
· Wait for NBA team before vacating road in Sodo near proposed arena [ST]
· Occidental Avenue's Lack of Traffic [KJR]
· All SoDo Arena coverage [CS]
Image: Ian & Puck