Hey Seattle, what happened to two separate tracks?
While I certainly appreciate that there is a lot of work to be done on negotiating a memorandum of understanding with Oak View Group regarding the potential KeyArena redevelopment, is it truly necessary to pull all resources from reviewing the SoDo arena street vacation request?
Earlier in the year, in one of the first meetings of the newly formed Select Committee on Civic Arenas, we as constituents were informed that, while the city pursued a possible new arena project at Seattle Center, the SoDo project would continue on its own track. The investment group submitted their second request for vacation in February. Everyone was eyeing late summer or early fall as to when the council would entertain the request following the standard recommendation process.
Yet, this week we're told it's in fact not two separate tracks, and that the city has a clear priority to which to devote resources. Yes, we'll make sure to place language in a resolution to reaffirm our commitment to pursuing a potential project at KeyArena that asserts no preferred or guaranteed outcome. But all actions speak to a preferred project.
I'm not saying I'm not open to a KeyArena redo. Honestly, I'm pretty much of the opinion now that it's our likely best path toward an arena, toward getting the NBA back, toward bringing the NHL to Seattle, and toward a worthy civic arena for not just music and entertainment but to host events like national political conventions for which the city has had to skip on applying. This is not a popular opinion among the sports fandom, I'm aware, but my holistic read of the landscape leads me to it.
My concern is that, preference or not, the arena process was presented to the public as two proposals to be given fair, if not equal, weight and consideration. They were to be independently studied along their different tracks until such a time as both could be considered in tandem and a single choice arrived at.
Yes, the SoDo project has the benefit of years of process behind it. The OVG project still has to get through the gauntlet to be on a comparable level to consider between the two. It's understandable that resources would be moved in that direction to play "catch-up." Yet, the SoDo project is still in play until at least December 3, 2017 by agreement, and there is still action to consider on it. It should be given its fair due.
The city would do better for itself to continue the vacation process with SoDo. You have the previous work that SDOT did prior to its first recommendation for the project in late 2015 to lean on. Getting the project to its vacation vote presents just the kind of transparency that has been lauded throughout the KeyArena process to date.
In the end, the choice still lies with the city and the council. Why not get your table fully set so you can make the best and most informed choice? Finish both tracks; it’s in the city’s best interest.