Photo of downtown Seattle, Washington.

Image Credit: Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Economists suggest that there is little evidence suggesting that the construction of sports venues create a positive impact on a city's economy. However, Seattle is choosing to ignore that theory and has finally reached an agreement on a new multi-purpose arena in the SODO section of town.

The new arena will cost upwards of $500 million to build depending upon whether or not an NHL franchise will be in the picture. The ultimate goal is to secure an NBA franchise which would be considered the re-birth of the Supersonics. Hedge fund manager Chris Hansen has a group of investors that will contribute $300 million towards the arena's construction while the city of Seattle will contribute more than $100 million derived from bonds.

The deal has been met with plenty of skeptics, primarily officials associated with Seattle's Port Authority. A new arena with potentially two professional franchises brings heavy traffic to the area. Additional traffic will also welcome the opening of new hotels, restaurants, offices and retail. The ports plan to expand their operations in the future and doubt that the area could sustain the freight and constant transportation of supplies. Adding a brand new arena could threaten the thousands of jobs the Port plans to add in the future.

Let's also not forget that both Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, and CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, are also in the SODO neighborhood and boast huge audiences as well. The city doesn't see much of a problem with the arena's proximity though, with only ten Seahawks home games per season. Wouldn't hotels, restaurants and other businesses create new jobs as well? Absolutely. But it's industrial jobs that helped shape and expand many American cities; not retail and hospitality and certainly not professional sports franchises.

The old KeyArena could house the Supersonics II when an NBA franchise is inherited and until the new arena is built. David Stern and Adam Silver don't seem too excited about that sentiment. The most likely possibility is that Seattle could inherit the New Orleans Pelicans now that the Sacramento Kings have secured a their new arena in Sacramento's city center. The NHL franchise that could land in Seattle is now extremely uncertain; the Arizona Coyotes were purchased earlier this month by a group of investors headed by Greg Jamison.


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