By John Boyle Herald Writer
SEATTLE — The Mariners welcome the return of the NBA to Seattle. Just not in their back yard.
Team chairman and CEO Howard Lincoln wrote in a letter Tuesday that the Mariners “strongly support the return of the NBA to Seattle, and would welcome the addition of an NHL hockey team.” But later in that letter, which is addressed to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Executive Dow Constantine, the Seattle City Council and the King County Council, Lincoln goes on to express concerns about the plan to build an arena just south of Safeco Field.
“The proposed SODO location, in our view, simply does not work,” the letter says. “It would bring scheduling, traffic and parking challenges that would likely require hundreds of millions of dollars to mitigate. We doubt that an arena could succeed financially at this location given mitigation costs and necessary scheduling limitations. Without highly restrictive scheduling limitations, traffic gridlock would put all of the area’s teams at risk.”
While a new arena would no doubt bring year-round events that could potentially lead to scheduling headaches, conflicts between an NBA franchise and the Mariners would be minimal. In 2008, the Sonics last season in Seattle before relocating to Oklahoma City, the Mariners and Sonics played at home on the same day only twice, and that was when the two teams weren’t playing in the same neighborhood. A year earlier, the Sonics’ and Mariners’ home schedules overlapped on only one day.
In his letter, Lincoln suggests the consideration of an arena located in Bellevue, Renton, Seattle Center, or South Lake Union. SODO has emerged as the focus of the latest arena efforts, however, because Christopher Hansen, a San Francisco hedge-fun manager, has already purchased land south of Safeco Field and submitted a proposal that includes $290 million in private money to go towards a new arena.
“We look forward to working with the Mariners,” McGinn said in a statement. “The transportation issues they raise will be addressed in the environmental review process.
“This is a Seattle-specific proposal to locate an arena in Seattle’s stadium district, which was created for stadiums after an extensive process of review. As mayor, I will work to address the Mariner’s concerns, as I continue working with King County and Chris Hansen to bring an NBA and NHL team to Seattle.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.