May 26

Seattle Arena MOU Recap

Now that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Seattle Arena has been released and we know there are no significant adverse impacts standing in the way of completing the permitting process, we thought it a good time to step back and review the important aspects of the Arena Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) approved by the Seattle and King County Councils in 2012.


The Arena will be developed and primarily financed with private funds. The public participation is designed to be self-financing and requires no new taxes or fees. The public financial participation will be repaid solely with Arena generated revenues that would not otherwise exist. The MOU includes multiple layers of protection built into the financing that protect the general funds and bond ratings of the city and county from being affected. A few of the key protections included in the MOU are as follow:

  • No public financial participation is triggered until an NBA franchise is acquired and located in Seattle via a binding non-relocation agreement.
  • Multiple reserve funds are established that protect the City from ever coming out of pocket to fund any Arena tax revenue shortfalls. The public participation is further backstopped by the value of the franchises themselves via guarantees in the MOU.
  • 100% of any construction cost overrun is borne by the Arena’s private investors.
  • If only an NBA team is acquired, public participation is capped at $125 million until an NHL team is acquired.
  • City will own the Arena and land underneath outright, even after 100% of the public participation has been repaid.
  • The MOU establishes a separate fund from ArenaCo contributions and Arena revenues to finance ongoing maintenance and repair and future capital upgrades to the facility.
  • The Arena shall be designed and constructed in collaboration with the City and County and their consultants and staff.
  • ArenaCo will maintain Labor Peace Agreements with labor organizations which represent workers in King County.
  • The MOU creates a $40 million fund to improve transportation infrastructure in the SoDo area.


Arena construction would support approximately 3,570 jobs and $289 million in wage earnings — ArenaCo commits to using the City of Seattle’s Inclusion Plan as guidance for the use of WMBE’s on the project.

NBA and NHL franchises will create demand of upwards of 5,000 hotel room nights per season, providing a boost to tourism during the winter months.

Gross regional economic activity from Arena operations would generate approximately $313 million in economic activity annually.


ArenaCo will enter into a Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) with appropriate community organizations that will be affected by the Arena, including Pioneer Square and the Chinatown/International District, to address potential economic, transportation, parking, or public safety concerns related to the Arena and its operation.

The NBA team housed in the Arena will be required to make tickets to games affordable to middle and low-income families by offering 1,500 tickets per game at reduced prices ($20 or less).

ArenaCo will require teams to establish partnerships with organizations throughout King County that serve youth and underserved communities, particularly those areas identified as having health and education disparities by Public Health Seattle-King County.

The NBA franchise will establish partnerships with the goal of contributing to the success and health of youth with initiatives such as scholarship funds, after-school programs, youth mentorship and improved basketball facilities in the region to increase opportunities to play and learn the game of basketball.

May 07

Sonics Arena Final Environmental Impact Statement

The long-awaited Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Seattle Arena has been released and it is a greenlight for us to continue moving forward to finish the remaining work needed for the final construction permits. A summary of that document is provided below for your information.

We want to thank the city staff and technical consultants who worked hard to get this document completed and published. It is a major milestone in our journey to bring the NBA and NHL back to Seattle.

We also wanted to take the opportunity to reiterate that we remain 100% supportive of the NHL returning to Seattle and playing in the Arena — and are completely open to the prospect of that occurring prior to the NBA. 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.

Lastly, we also want to extend our sincere thanks to all of you who have stood by us these past several years. Your support has meant so much to us and made a huge impact on the success of this important project. The EIS is clearly a significant milestone, but there is much more work to be done and we greatly appreciate the continued support from all Seattle sports fans.

— Chris Hansen, Pete Nordstrom, Erik Nordstrom, and Wally Walker



The final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Seattle Arena was published today. This 600 + page document, 2 years in the making, is the product of an exhaustive examination of a number of important issues such as construction impacts, transportation and freight impacts and parking and economic impacts.

While a number of potential transportation impacts, and associated mitigation measures to address those impacts were identified, no significant adverse impacts in any other area were identified.


No significant unavoidable adverse impacts to the street system, public transportation, bicyclists, and bicycle corridors are expected. The order of magnitude of change in traffic volumes associated with an arena for any event falls within the range of current event experience. There would be an increase in traffic volumes during peak conditions on event days, which would occur more frequently with the addition of an arena. A number of measures have been identified to reduce the level of traffic volumes, including demand reduction, and management of vehicles to orient them to the most appropriate route.

  • The EIS studied various scenarios with multiple events at the different stadium venues, up to a maximum attendance of 72,500, such as a typical Seahawks game. With the addition of the Seattle Arena the number of these large event days would increase.
  • Traffic impacts and travel time effects from an arena only event would generally be the same or slightly less than a Mariners only event.
  • Adding Arena events to days with Mariners and Century Link events (other than Seahawks) will somewhat increase traffic impacts in the area, but not beyond the maximum 72,500 cumulative attendance already seen at Seahawk games.
  • The seasonal overlap between NBA/NHL games and baseball and soccer is limited to a relatively small period in the spring and fall. Throughout the winter NBA/NHL season Arena events would not compete against major events in the existing two stadiums. The smaller number of Seahawk games facilitates joint scheduling during the winter.
  • Various potential mitigation measures were identified to address the transportation impacts, including local intersection improvements, sidewalk improvements for pedestrian traffic, a new pedestrian bridge across the railroad tracks on Holgate and contributions to other mitigation measures identified by the City.
Freight Traffic
  • The full annual delay costs to Port related traffic from additional Arena traffic is estimated to be $115,584. For non-Port truck trips the estimated delay costs are estimated to be $66,141.
Economic Impact
  • The construction related economic activity from direct and re-spending is estimated at $533 million.
  • Arena construction would support approximately 3,570 jobs and $289 million in wage earnings.
  • Gross regional economic activity from Arena operations would generate approximately $313 million in economic activity annually.
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