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Seattle should listen to shipping industry's concerns about proposed arena
SEATTLE shipping interests' opposition to the proposed basketball arena is a serious matter. The Port of Seattle, BNSF Railway, the Pacific Maritime Shipping Association and the Manufacturing Industrial Council have raised alarms about the effect of a third sports venue on the movement of freight. The city of Seattle should listen to these voices and take them seriously.
We like baseball, football, basketball and hockey. We want them all. But ocean commerce on the Seattle waterfront is more than a $3 billion-a-year industry, employing tens of thousands. It cannot move, although its business certainly can â€” to other ports. Unlike a basketball game, the loading of an ocean ship must be done on the waterfront.
Two stadiums have been built near the marine terminals, hemmed in on the east and west by railroad yards. Most of the fans arrive at games by car. The new arena would be smaller than either of the existing ones, but still would attract up to 8,000 cars per event.
It is true that most of the freight moves in the day and the games are in the evening, but game traffic builds up several hours before the games. Already the two stadiums have to separate their game times by at least four hours to avoid gridlock. The Port has plans to increase container volume in the years ahead.
Roads can be improved to solve some of these problems, but at a cost. When the football stadium was built, port users were promised three new overpasses. Two were built, and only one, at Edgar Martinez Drive, is really useful.
Promoter Chris Hansen has not volunteered to pay for hundreds of millions of dollars in needed traffic improvements. He says the traffic problems are not his fault because they existed before he bought the property. Just so. His fault was in buying it.
No doubt it seemed like a good idea at the time. Two stadiums were there already, so why not a third? It may be that two's company and three's a crowd.