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10 Weeks Until Shovels In the Ground

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It’s always been about the arena

Last week Seattle Center Arena’s FEIS was released and none of the volunteer writers at this site stepped up to cover it extensively. I suspect that many of them (like me) are tired of covering politics and construction process given that we started this whole thing talking about fun stuff like basketball, Hockey and our community of fans.

The political conversation has been born of necessity, each of us reaching the inevitable conclusion that we couldn’t talk about teams until our region built a world class arena capable of housing the NBA, NHL and other forms of live entertainment. The arena was the vexing riddle that had to be solved before anything else could move forward so we adapted to that reality and became champions of building an arena, the most critical step necessary to someday bring back the Sonics.

In 2010 a group of Sonics supporters wanted to recognize that there was no chance to bring the Sonics back until an arena was built. We intentionally branded as “ArenaSolution” and moved away from a green and gold color scheme to prioritize the arena as #1 regional goal.

It’s proven to be harder than anyone really imagined, as demonstrated by the fact that so many powerful people have tried and failed. Behind the scenes right now there is an army at work resolving the final building details, planning and communicating construction schedules, coordinating those schedules with neighborhood interests and planning the 2 year shutdown of one of Seattle’s busiest public buildings. A separate army of folks is planning for the launch of a new $600 million dollar NHL franchise and far away from all that action even more smart people are working hard to leverage this opportunity for an unprecedented impact within the industries of sports and entertainment, including the acquisition of an NBA team. Somewhere in all that chaos people are trying to make sure that Oct. 5 is a special moment for Sonics fans.

I’m finding myself pretty emotional about the fact that we are sitting just 2 weeks out of “shovel ready” and 10 weeks away from “Steel in the ground.” At that point the ball will be passed to the paid professionals and “sports advocates” like myself and the other writers on the site will have the opportunity to step away and just be sports fans again.

While I’m excited to cover fun aspects of the building (crazy that the dual scoreboards have made it this far in the design process. is that groundbreaking or insane?) it is my hope that the days of covering council process and city politics are mostly behind us. As the stories transition to things like local ownership, practice facilities, names, colors and logos we’ll step into that role just in time to save what remains of our sanity.

I think having the Seattle Center politics behind us will also be good news for Chris Hansen and his Sodo team. It will allow them to step back from the spectacle and drama that has come to surround their effort and, given current circumstance they will benefit from and seem to be actively pursuing, a quieter process out of the public eye unless and until they find an NBA franchise opportunity to re-ignite the conversation and move forward with a 2 arena scenario. If that happens I’m sure we will all be more than happy to cover construction one last time.

I hope that any individual or group considering last minute delay tactics will understand how hard this is, how close we are and how much it means to so many people.

A massive effort is being made to finish the Phase 1 Excavation process prior to peak tourist season. The truck haulage necessary during this phase of the project will most significantly impact local restaurants and bars who hope to have it completed before spring cruise season.
  • We want Hockey in 2020! (and what a great message that sends to the NBA!)
  • Relocated tenants like the Storm and other Seattle Center resident organizations deserve to know exactly how long they will be homeless.
  • The city of Seattle shouldn’t have to sit on an empty building waiting to resolve administrative concerns.
  • Local businesses and restaurants shouldn’t be at risk of pushing the excavation schedule into the summer vacation season.
  • The writers (and I suspect readers) on this site are ready to move on from land use stories. As fans we deserve to move on and get back to the fun stuff.

Build the arena!

Welcome the NHL!

Get the NBA!