Seattle moved a step closer to bringing an NBA team back to the city and adding an NHL team after a final environmental impact statement (FEIS) found no significant obstacles to block a new proposed arena.
The proposal to bring franchises of both sports is nowhere near completed, as arena investor Chris Hansen still needs to rework the proposal's language so that an NHL team could be the first occupant of the new facility.
The 627-page report wants the 18,000-seat arena to be built and opened by 2018 in the city’s stadium district, near Safeco Field, home of MLB’s Seattle Mariners.
“Folks have got to come up with a plan that’s viable for us to finalize this process,” Seattle mayor Ed Murray said to the Seattle Times. “The timeline you see for decisions on the arena are the timelines for when we either go forward, or we pull the plug.”
Even though Murray called the FEIS “another major milestone,” he wants Hansen’s group to come up with a funding proposal by this fall, and says he will look somewhere else to try to get the arena built if they can’t come through.
Murray has said he would consider modifying the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which is held between Hansen, the city, and King County, so an NHL team could start construction on an arena. The current MOU allows an arena to be built only after an NBA team is put in the city.
"In light of recent speculation, we would just like to clarify that we have sought to be as accommodating as possible in our negotiations with potential NHL partners, with our only major requirements being that such a deal does not jeopardize the process or put the City, County, Taxpayers or us in a worse financial position,” Hansen's investor group wrote in a statement.
The FEIS says the new arena would bring between $230 million to $286 million each year to King County.
Another stadium project headed by Connecticut-based RLB Holdings Sports and Entertainment filed a code interpretation request last month in order to get an arena built in Seattle.
- Scooby Axson