The evolution of the stadium district
On September 24 the Seattle City Council members approved a plan 6-2 for a $490 million arena near the Seahawks and Mariners stadiums south of downtown. Sports fans looking for real estate in Seattle may consider the SoDo area, which is turning into a hub for entertainment. The neighborhood started to become a sports district in 1972 when the Kingdome opened, and it has simultaneously been an industrial center, which some are concerned will no longer continue after the construction of a National Basketball League and National Hockey League arena.
Seattle has not had an NBA team since 2008 after the Supersonics moved to Oklahoma City and became known as the Thunder. While hockey fans have been able to root for the Seattle Thunderbirds for many years, the city hasn't had a National Hockey league home team since 1924 when The Metropolitans disbanded shortly after a Stanley Cup win in 1917. The proposed new stadium will be funded by hedge-fund manager, Chris Hansen, who promised to guarantee the city’s debt.
After the Kingdome began literally falling apart, the Mariners received a new stadium, and Safeco Field opened in 1999. By 2000, the Kingdome was imploded and CenturyLink Field opened up, next door to the Mariners’ home field. However, much of the rest of the neighborhood was and still is a valuable shipping industry. City officials hope to protect the industrial corridor, while letting the neighborhood thrive as a stadium district. When CenturyLink opened, officials promised to improve transportation so that sports traffic wouldn’t overlap with freight traffic, but plans fell through.
To ensure the districts didn’t overlap, the City Council established a “Stadium Transition Area Overlay District” as a buffer. However, these protections do not include development for sports-recreational uses.
"Within the boundary (of the overlay) the arena does work, but it absorbs all remaining land for a third stadium," former City Council member Peter Steinbrueck told SportsPress Northwest. "It loses the original intent as a transition area. A transition area is used to (separate) sports-recreational use and heavy industrial use. There's a very heavy industrial use here."
City council members are optimistic that there can be a thriving port and three sports stadiums coexisting together. Seattle sports fans are vocal about their want for a new arena, and a new sports team - or two - to cheer for.