John Stanton says the Mariners support the NBA and NHL coming to Seattle as long as it isn’t near Safeco Field.
New ownership for the Mariners apparently won’t soften the team’s stance on a proposed multi-sport arena next door.
Incoming Mariners CEO John Stanton and outgoing Howard Lincoln reiterated Wednesday the team isn’t opposed to having the NBA or NHL come to Seattle. They just don’t want either playing in the Sodo District right next to their Safeco Field parking garage.
“If you own a house and somebody wants to build a big, ugly house right at the end of your driveway — that frankly, blocks your driveway — you’ve got a right to express an opinion,” Stanton said. “And I think it’s fair to express that opinion. And the notion that somehow, because we express that opinion, that it means we’re against the NBA is absurd. It’s absolutely absurd.’’
Earlier, Lincoln said the team supports the NBA and NHL coming to Seattle as long as it isn’t in Sodo, where entrepreneur Chris Hansen hopes to build a $490 million arena and surrounding entertainment development.
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“Our issue has to do with where this NBA arena will be situated,’’ Lincoln said. “And we don’t think that putting it at the end of the Safeco Field parking garage is a good idea. And we’ve expressed that. I can say that our ownership group is united in that position. But it’s not just the Mariners who are concerned about the location of the arena.
“As you well know, the Port, the maritime industry, the longshoremen and other unions have expressed the same concern.’’
Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Council president, said last week that the Seahawks had reached out to him to complain about a lack of scheduling guidelines for days when multiple teams would play. Harrell termed the scheduling issue a “deal breaker” for him. Council members have since been meeting with teams to try to resolve matters.
Late Wednesday night, word came from a source that Sodo area teams, Hansen’s representatives and the city were close to a deal that would implement a three-hour start-time delay between any games played by multiple teams. The Mariners remain vehemently opposed to a Sodo arena but pushed for the delayed start time in case one is built.
A council vote is scheduled Monday on whether to vacate part of Occidental Avenue for Hansen’s arena. Hansen must secure an NBA team by November 2017 in order to garner up to $200 million in public-bond funding for the arena before a deal between him, the city and King County expires.
Stanton was a onetime Sonics minority owner and offered to buy the team from Howard Schultz before the Starbucks CEO sold to a group headed by Clay Bennett that eventually moved the squad to Oklahoma City in 2008.
“I was a huge Sonics fan … We had season tickets even before we got involved with the team,’’ Stanton said. “We even had hockey tickets for the Thunderbirds (major junior team) when they were in Seattle. I loved those sports and regret as we go into the playoffs for the NHL and NBA that we don’t have a team here playing with us.’’
But Stanton agreed that the ownership “stands firmly” behind Lincoln in not wanting the arena in Sodo.
“Howard speaks for the franchise and will through August, but all of us are behind him,’’ he said.