Boom: Proposed NBA/NHL arena in Seattle clears major hurdle

SEATTLE -- They once soared through Seattle. Now, Sonics fans are soaring over the news that the Seattle arena deal is going forward.

"This is good news," said Sonics Rising founder Brian Robinson, responding to the just-released Environmental Impact Statement released by the city of Seattle.

"It’s great to get some positive wind in our sails and move this thing forward."

According to the EIS, there are no major obstacles to building a sports arena on the property owned by Chris Hansen in the city's Sodo district.

"We’re one step closer to bringing NHL hockey and NBA basketball to Seattle,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

The city still needs a team before shovels can go into the ground.

With so much interest from the NHL, the mayor, and even Hansen, are broaching the idea of getting a hockey team here first.

“We remain 100% supportive of the NHL returning to Seattle and playing in the arena — and are completely open to the prospect of that occurring prior to the
NBA,” said Hansen.

The current deal calls for $200 million in public financing, and the deal would have to be modified if a hockey team comes first.

The arena site is close to the Port of Seattle, but the EIS says the impact on traffic will be minimal.

"I’d say that you almost have to be brain dead to say that there’s a minimal traffic impact here," said Chris Van Dyke, who represents truckers and has rallied against the arena plan for years.

The Port of Seattle seconded that thought, saying in a statement that an arena would cripple freight traffic in the area. The Port is now offering to partner with the city to consider other sites.

There are other locations being considered by other investors, including a site in Tukwila.

Sonics supporters, like Robinson, say competition is good and they hope it all leads the Sonics back to Seattle sooner rather then later.

"These are the times we should look forward to as fans. We should be ready to cheer."