OP-ED: A Rainier Valley Solution to Seattle’s Quest for an NBA/NHL Arena

By Richard McIver and David Essig/Special to The Seattle Times:

The Mount Baker light-rail station could be linked to an arena complex in the Rainier Valley.

In the discussion over a new basketball and hockey arena for Seattle, we believe an essential factor is missing in the so-called “Sodo solution” — vision. Our solution, by contrast, offers a grand vision, with broader benefits to the community.

Let’s consider Rainier Valley — specifically the approximately two-and-a-half-acre triangle at the intersection of Rainier Avenue South, Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South McClellan Street.

We suggest building an elevated civic center over the existing bus transit center, providing elevated walkways to the light-rail station and other major destinations, such as Lowe’s, QFC and Franklin High School.

This would create a world-class “Sports, Arts, Civic and Economic Center,” or SPACE Center. It would create an above-ground link between the bus-transfer and light-rail stations. It would support the “bow tie” redesign of the area road network the city is currently researching. More.

A diagram of the community from the North Rainier Neighborhood Plan Update from the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development.

16 comments on “OP-ED: A Rainier Valley Solution to Seattle’s Quest for an NBA/NHL Arena

  1. Lets stop and think. How long did it take to put the train down MLK? How many businesses closed because no one could get to them? How many people lost their jobs? Realize while the steel workers are moving steel beams over this triangle, while they are pouring concrete, while they are pounding pilings, there will be no traffic N-S on Rainier or MLK. These two streets carry most of the NS traffic in South Seattle. There will be no shopping at any of the businesses. There will be a need for many parking lots destroying more businesses and homes. Light rail cannot handle the crowds at our SODO stadiums. It is not unusual to have to stand in the Rain for an hour or two after a football game and they have quite a bit of parking.

  2. They should have rolled this out on April 1st.

    I still can’t stop laughing.

    Does anyone know what each of the colored lines represents?

  3. The idea is batsh%t insane. Maybe that is why I love it. It will never happen in a million years for many reason. But I love the audacity of the plan.

    What ticks me off is the jackasses in the Times comment section running their mouths about how bad the RV is; all too obvious that these morons have never stepped south of 1-90 in their lives.

  4. Mark – I think this is a graphic that was taken from a traffic revision proposal where the MLK/Rainier intersection would be the point where Rainier would become 1-way northbound and MLK would become 1-way southbound. Not sure if the proposal became POR, but it seems like it would create a traffic clusterf*

  5. Tiffany,
    Thats what I thought they mention in the editorial how many routes there would be available to get there, but I do not think they accounted for the “bow tie” traffic jam they are going to create.

    Thats another thing I don’t think they understand how many people will not come down here due to the areas reputation (some of it deserved) even for a game.

  6. Rainier is a mess in regular rush hour traffic. I can’t imagine how bad it would be with a game thrown in the mix — especially since they seem to LOVE scheduling games that begin during rush hour.

  7. Plus looking at the size of that parcel, it does not look big enough to build a midget wrestling complex (I appologize to any midgets that may take offense) let alone an NBA approved arena.

  8. As others note, the traffic situation would be insane, should this plan be implemented.

    If that enormous headache could be justified by increased revenue for neighborhood businesses, I might be persuaded to view the plan slightly (emphasis: slightly) more favorably. But a stadium in RV would probably have the same economic impact in the area as the stadiums in SoDo: negative. During the game, businesses and residents in the area would experience tremendous disruption as every available parking spot was sucked up by the fans. After the game, people would immediately split for home as fast as public transit or their cars could carry them.

    Remember that one selling point for the two stadiums (stadia?) in SoDo was the uptick in business for Pioneer Square restaurants and retail? Care to count the empty storefronts in the Square these days?

  9. I’m all for midget wrestling. Move the Rat City Rollergirls down here too!

  10. Seems Rainier Beach would make more sense: Rainier to I405, MLK to I5 and light rail.

  11. @ RV dude… the plural of stadium is actually ‘stadium’. It’s a freaky latin thing. Since you asked and alll

  12. Carol, it’s a good day when one learns something new. Hoodathunkit!

  13. Ain’t gonna happen here…. The Mayor has been swayed on the SODO deal which would further slow freight mobility with a lost of more Port jobs with 3 stadiums clogging rail and traffic to a standstill.

    Key Arena was built for basketball, makes sense if the city tore it down and re-build a larger, taj mahal one with the Sonics hedge fund investors.

  14. I never saw a game in the Sick’s stadium. The night the neighborhood dad’s got all the kids and in the back of the pickup and drove off to the Pilot’s game, I was too little to go. Of course, in my mind I was as old as the adults. They all came back with those blue plastic Seattle Pilots batting helmets with gold trim that night, and all played baseball wearing them in the field….but I digress. The Sicks stadium was “thee” best location for a baseball stadium of just about any place in the U.S. It was right at the intersection of the heart of the city–not downtown, but the heart of the city, the intersection of multiple neighborhoods and a narrow business corridor. I can only wonder how nice it must have been to walk a few blocks on a warm summer’s evening and take in a Pilots game with hotdog, catsup and mustard and an ice-cold Coca Cola. It’s too bad the stadium had to be demolished. Some say it was too small. Nowdays they could have expanded it.

    That said, would a basketball stadium work there? I’m not sure. I suspect the traffic reroute would be an utter mess. Also, it’s going to be hard to recreate the basketball spirit Seattle had in the 1970’s with Lenny Wilkens. He was a class act. That’s probably the best basketball that will ever be here, and I’m glad I was here when it happened. The sport hadn’t really become thug-ball, or drug-ball yet. There was still this sense of innocence in the sport and with the fans and in those classic battles with Washington Bullets coached Dick “persona non grata” Motta, and in that championship we attained, that will make the whole time extra special…Gus Williams, DJ, JJ, Downtown Freddy Brown, Jack Sikma, Paul Silas…Elvin Hayes… Now the sport has moved from sport, to showtime, to big business. It seems different.

    So, if they were to build something there (since it could happen)…I would suggest a stadium that would work for both basketball and hockey, and with free ice skating for the public on non-game days.

  15. @Lissa-
    Wow, I stand corrected. College was soooo long ago!

    Need to bust out Winne ille Pooh and brush up.

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