Seahawks owner Paul Allen’s private company, which oversees events, operations and parking at CenturyLink, signs letter raising concerns over proposed arena for NBA and NHL in Sodo. The Washington State Public Stadium Authority also signed the letter.
A Paul Allen company representing Seahawks business interests has signed off on a letter expressing “significant unresolved questions and corresponding concerns” about the Sodo District arena proposal.
The letter was sent Wednesday to the Seattle Design Commission by First & Goal Inc. — the private Allen company overseeing events, tickets, operations and parking at CenturyLink Field — and by the Washington State Public Stadium Authority. It expresses concerns that the Final Environmental Impact Statement on the arena proposed by entrepreneur Chris Hansen contains too many unresolved issues, including the handling of pedestrians, traffic and parking.
The Seattle Times obtained the six-page letter Wednesday. It was signed by David Young, First & Goal vice president/general manager, and by Ann Kawasaki Romero, stadium authority executive director.
“It was anticipated that the EIS regarding the arena would resolve many of our questions and concerns,’’ the letter states. “Unfortunately, after reviewing the FEIS … we continue to be troubled that the arena has not yet disclosed … how the proposed arena will fit within the existing stadium district or how it will mitigate many of its potential effects.”
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Hansen is requesting the removal of part of Occidental Avenue to accommodate his arena plans. The design commission is reviewing those plans and will submit feedback to the Seattle Department of Transportation ahead of a final recommendation by late August.
A Seattle City Council vote on the matter is expected before year’s end.
A statement put out by the Seahawks on Wednesday night, in response to a Seattle Times question about the letter, reiterated the team supports the Sodo arena.
“The issues raised in the letter (e.g. parking, multi-event scheduling, pedestrian and vehicle traffic flow) are all issues that FGI as the stadium operator, is concerned about,” the statement said.
The team said in its statement that all issues raised by the letter had already been “voiced in earlier letters and comments” to the design commission and city planning department before the FEIS release this month. The statement also pointed out that though the Seahawks are affiliated with FGI, they did not sign the letter because they are not the stadium’s operator.
A spokesman for Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said Murray has yet to see the document. Murray has come out in favor of an NHL-first solution for the arena in recent months. A spokesman for Hansen could not be reached for comment.
FGI and the stadium authority expressed several issues in its letter. Of prime concern is the number of people on nights when multiple events occur at CenturyLink Field, Safeco Field and the arena. The Mariners, who play home games at Safeco Field, previously expressed concerns about the potential impact on traffic when simultaneous events occur.
The FEIS stated there would be some traffic delays that could be mitigated. It also said the predicted full capacity of 72,500 people that could simultaneously attend a non-Seahawks event at CenturyLink, a Mariners game at Safeco Field and an NBA or NHL contest at the proposed arena would be about the same as a sold-out NFL contest in the Sodo District.
FGI and the stadium authority said in their letter that the process needs “complete mitigation measures, including scope, timing and responsibility as part of any decision regarding the requested street vacation.”
It also states that protocols need to be established for how the three sports venues will collaborate to avoid conflicting events. It says initial attempts to have the three reach an agreement have gone nowhere.
FGI and the stadium authority also said in the letter that a decision must be made on whether to build a pedestrian bridge over railway tracks at Holgate Street. It says the alternative of using shuttle buses to take thousands of fans across the tracks “is not an acceptable or viable long-term solution.”
The stadium authority was a public body created by voters in 1997 when they passed a referendum authorizing $300 million in public funds for the construction of a stadium for the Seahawks. Allen formed FGI that year, and the company contributed $130 million in private funds toward the remaining cost of the $430 million facility.