With a 5-4 vote on Monday, May 2nd, the Seattle City Council voted against vacating the stretch of Occidental Avenue between the Safeco Field parking garage and Holgate; effectively killing the arena, and Chris Hansen’s plans for returning the Sonics to Seattle.
Since Hansen was unable to secure the street between the two parcels of land he owns on either side of it, the building can not be built. That means that years of man power, and tens of millions of dollars (for studies) were wasted by the hedge fund manager in an attempt to bring back the cities defunct basketball team. His time and effort was for not.
It’s also unlikely that anyone in the Seattle area would be able to create an arena plan and earn approval from the municipal, county, and/or state government (let alone the NBA or NHL leagues) within the next three years. The momentum and fan support that has been built up is gone; there is a whole generation of children who don’t know what Sonics basketball is…and won’t for the foreseeable future. All because the City Council essentially backed out of a deal it agreed to four years ago.
One of the big factors in the council’s vote was Hansen’s in ability to promise that he would be able to secure a team (which he needed the arena for), and the City Council’s bizarre fascination with reusing a building the NBA has deemed to be unfit in is current state in 2006, and even in a refurbished state as the league repeatedly stated during the Kings’ near relocation to Seattle in 2013.
Throughout the meeting, the there was talk about slowing down the process and allowing for more time to thoroughly study the plan — including one citizen asking for an EIS and traffic study, which were officially released in 2015. After all, it’s not like Hansen and the City have spent the last four years studying the location and deciding that SODO is (in fact!) the best location for the arena to be built within city limits.
Sally Bagshaw, one of the biggest proponents of the memorandum of understanding in 2012, turned against her original vote nearly four years later to kill the deal she helped craft. Which is astounding considering the fact that she was a big part of securing the SODO transportation fund and funding from Hansen for helping move Key Arena into its next phase of life; both things are gone now with Monday’s vote.
The Port of Seattle threatened to sue the city if it voted in favor of vacating the street before the meeting; and confirmed that fact after the vote as well.
In the end, the Port of Seattle and a very vocal minority with a overpaid mouth piece won out.
And that’s extremely disappointing.