It was a different kind of March Madness in Seattle's city hall Tuesday night. People lobbed arguments for and against a proposed basketball arena at a packed hearing on the topic.
Investor Chris Hansen has said he wants to bring an NBA team back to Seattle — as long as the city helps pay for an arena.
The city also would turn over part of Occidental Avenue South for the arena development.
Greg Root of the Seattle Sports Commission testified for the street change and the construction of a new arena. "The commission believes that a well-planned and year-round stadium district will make a huge positive impact on Seattle's economy, its quality of life, and its international standing as a destination city," Root said.
He was among many speakers longing for a new NBA team after the SuperSonics were moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 (now the Thunder).
But Port of Seattle commissioners and labor groups who rely on the port don't like the arena site. They said putting an arena south of Safeco Field would add more traffic problems to an already congested area.
"We can't move our beautifully deep waterfront, meaning our naturally deep harbor, but a sports arena could be seated in another area," Port of Seattle commissioner Courtney Gregoire said.
She says she would love to see an NBA team back in Seattle, but not in Sodo. Some would like to see the Key Arena remodeled instead. Members of the homeless community also spoke, saying that during a homeless crisis the city shouldn't spend money on an arena.
A City Council committee could vote on the Occidental Avenue plan as soon as April 19.
Correction, 3/16/2016 at 9:15 a.m.: Investor Chris Hansen has said he wants to bring an NBA team back to Seattle. As for a NHL team in Seattle, Hansen has said he is interested in working with a different partner to possibly bring an NHL team to the proposed Sodo arena.