The rumored Tukwila arena proposal is now a reality as Ray Bartoszek has filed a code interpretation request with the City of Tukwila. Bartoszek’s interpretation request is the first of many steps that he is going to have to take to get an arena constructed in time for his projected opening of 2017.
Bartoszek’s RLB Holdings Sports and Entertainment filed the code interpretation request with the city on Wednesday, April 22nd. In the request, RLB expressed its interest in privately financing a multipurpose arena just off of exit 1 of I-405, east of the West Valley Highway, near the Sounder Station — about a 15 minute car ride from downtown Seattle in good traffic. The group will file a SEPA application on May 1st, getting the proposal one step closer to shovel ready.
The apparent goal of this arena is to attract a NHL team, and a NBA team to the Seattle metro area. Some of Bartoszek’s partners in the group include Bill Russel, former Sonics captain Fred Brown, and MulvannyG2 Jerry Lee — according to Craig Custance, he has been crucial in the acquisition of land. It seems that Bartoszek has been busy partnering with former Sonics to make it clear he isn’t focused on just bringing an NHL team to Seattle.
Bartoszek was instrumental in Seattle’s push to acquire the Phoenix Coyotes back in 2013, a bid that ultimately failed. Ever since then he has been quietly contact NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
“There’s no doubt [Bartoszek] is a substantial, smart person who is passionate about the game,” Bettman told ESPN.com. “We’re having conversations to the extent that the interested parties want to talk to us. It hasn’t gotten beyond that.”
While he was talking to Bettman, Bartoszek was extremely quiet on the public relations front in Seattle. The silence led many to believe that he had dropped out of the arena race completely…until Bettman dropped the Tukwila arena news in an interview a couple of months ago. Now the proposal has officially been filed with the City of Tukwila, and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens politically; it’s going to be easier for politicians to approve a privately financed arena than one that takes any kind of public funding…even construction bonds.
This also applies a ton of pressure towards Chris Hansen’s proposed Sonics Arena in Seattle. Hansen’s arena proposal has been bogged down in the environmental review stage thanks to Bertha (Seattle’s tunnel digging machine) getting stuck in the ground. The FEIS is currently expected to be released on May 7th — six days after Baroszek files his SEPA request — and that will determine whether or not Hansen’s proposal is even viable in its current location.