By Steve Wilhelm, May 1, 2013, Puget Sound Business Journal
Freight industry leaders — who have been fighting plans to build a basketball arena in Seattle’s Sodo area — today expressed muted relief that the effort to bring an NBA team to Seattle seems to have been stalled.
And the local longshore union said today it has no plans to drop its legal action against the Sodo arena plan.
Port of Seattle Commission President Tom Albro said that while it’s good the NBA likely won’t be playing basketball near Seattle’s Sodo cargo terminals soon, he’s not opposed to basketball in Seattle.
“I’m not celebrating that the Kings are staying in Sacramento,” he said. “What we need to do is roll up our sleeves in this community and make this a win for everybody, by finding a good location for the arena, which is not in the Sodo.
“What this does,” he added, “is it gives us all an opportunity — the city, the port, the community — to look at how we can support business in Sodo, the maritime sector, to be able to reinvest.”
Also low-key in his response to that setback for the arena plan was John Odland, board chairman of the Manufacturing Industrial Council of Seattle and vice president of MacMillan-Piper Inc., a major cargo trans-loading company headquartered just blocks from where the Chris Hansen has proposed to put the arena.
Odland said that he does feel some relief that the momentum to build the arena may have lessened.
“If this had gone through,” he said of the proposal to move the Kings to Seattle, “that would have put a lot more pressure on elected officials to move this thing forward, regardless of the EIS.”
He added that he’s not at all against returning a pro basketball team to the region.
“I’d love to see the NBA come back,” he said. “I just don’t think (Sodo) is a good place for it.”
In addition, while the relocation committee’s recommendation has slowed and may possibly stop the specific arena proposal, there remain pressures to gentrify the industrial area south of downtown, he said.
“There are strongly competing forces that are not looking at the fact that there is so much rail and so much deepwater port there, and that billions of dollars that have been spent to establish those,” he said. “That’s a concern to all of us, including the port and the railroads, to make sure that doesn’t impede the ability of our businesses to succeed down there.”
Meanwhile the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 19, which has opposed the project’s cargo-threatening aspects from the start, is continuing with legal action against it.
Peter Goldman, managing attorney for the Forest Lawn Law Center, said his client has no plans to stop litigation against the original arena proposal, and will continue with the appeal filed April 26.
“We have a live process in front of us right now, the SEPA process is continuing” he said, referring to the State Enviromental Policy Act. “As soon as someone tells me it’s been withdrawn, fine, our case goes away.”
Goldman added that Hansen filed a master use permit with Seattle Tuesday, the day after the relocation committee’s vote.
“As far as I know, everything Mr. Hansen is doing to get permitting of a single building on a single site, is still going on,” Goldman said.