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Street change for new SODO arena passes one hurdle

caption: File photo of the Sodo area of Seattle.
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File photo of the Sodo area of Seattle.

A Seattle City Council committee has passed a key measure regarding the plans for a new sports arena.

It would close two blocks of Occidental Avenue South to make room for the arena.

The measure still needs approval from the full City Council.


The 4-1 vote is one step in a process that started in 2012. An investor group led by Chris Hansen wants to build an arena and host an NBA team. But the possibility of closing a street in SODO has raised concerns about traffic from some council members and the Port of Seattle.

That's a primary reason why council member Sally Bagshaw voted no.

Bagshaw:"Beyond the fact that we have no SuperSonics in sight, the traffic problems are real on 1st avenue and 4th avenue now through downtown and SODO. And under the terms of the proposed street vacation, we council members are being asked to give away a 65 foot wide street forever."

The rest of the committee insisted on several stipulations for the arena and the "street vacation" as it's called in city terms.

To avoid a traffic nightmare, arena events would have to be scheduled an hour apart from games at Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field.

Council President Bruce Harrell supports the arena, but says one hour would not be enough.

Harrell: "If anyone's been to a Mariners game, been to a Seahawks game, or been to a Sonics game, I just don't see how the one hour requirement gets past the giggle test."

He could propose a stricter schedule before the full council votes.

That will happen May 2.

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