Mar 14 • Messages from Chris

A Thank You From the Sonics Arena Team


Chris Hansen

​As we enter the final phase of the arena EIS process we wanted to take a moment to extend our sincere thanks to all of you who have stood with us over the past several years. Getting the street vacated is the last hurdle in the permitting process and will give us the green light to build an arena. More importantly, it will put Seattle in the best possible position to bring the NBA and NHL to Seattle.

Your support has been critical in getting us to this point and we can’t thank you enough for that. I hope you will be able to attend the Tuesday Public hearing and pre-hearing tip-off to let the City Council know just how important it is to have a shovel-ready arena project. You can also show your support by signing the petition and emailing the City Council at [email protected]

Again, thank you all very much — we wouldn’t be at this point in the process without your support. Let’s get this last piece done.

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

Mar 10

​Voice Your Support for Bringing the NBA and NHL to Seattle

On Tuesday, March 15 at 5:30 pm the City Council will hold a public hearing on a proposed “street vacation” for a section of Occidental Avenue in Seattle’s Stadium District – this is the final step in the EIS process.

If you plan on testifying in support of the street vacation for Sonics Arena make sure to show up at least an hour early to sign-up. If you don’t want to testify, just show up wearing your green and gold.

Public Hearing Tip-Off!

Join KJR, Kevin Calabro and fellow fans for a public hearing tip-off.

Tip-Off Seattle City Hall, Bertha Knight Landes Room Main Floor, Tuesday, March 15 at 4 pm.

Public Hearing Council Chambers 2nd Floor, Tuesday, March 15 at 5:30 pm.

Consider taking transit to the meeting. The Pioneer Square Bus Tunnel and Light Rail stop is only a few blocks away, and the 3rd Avenue Corridor is also nearby.

Tips for Testifying

Be Brief Keep your comments under a minute – if you are speaking on behalf of a group or organization your remarks should be under 5 minutes — and ask any members of your group present to stand as you testify.

Be Polite Remember that those against building the Arena also have a right to be heard.

Talking Points to Consider

After a lengthy environmental review process the Seattle Department of Transportation recommended the street vacation.

The Seattle Mariners received street vacations for Safeco Field and the Mariners Parking garage.

The street vacation is the final step of the EIS process and will give the investment team the green light to build an arena which puts Seattle in the best place it can be to take advantage of opportunities that will come up. 

Approving the street vacation will show the NBA and NHL we are ready to welcome professional teams to our city.

The Mayor and the Seattle City Council deserve our thanks for all the hard work they’ve done over the past three years to bring us to this exciting moment.

One More Thing…

Have fun! This is a special opportunity to be a part of bringing back our Sonics!

Unable to attend? Please email your support to the Seattle City Council at [email protected] You can also show your support on Twitter via the hashtag #gametime.

Mar 02

It’s Game Time!

​Sonics Fans,

It's time to remind our elected officials how much support there is to BRING BACK OUR SONICS.

Throughout this long review process we’ve been driven by your passion for returning the NBA and NHL to Seattle. Now we’re asking you to once again show the Seattle City Council just how passionate you are.

The City Council will soon vote on whether to approve a “street vacation” for a section of Occidental Avenue South between S. Holgate Street and S. Massachusetts Street (see map below). This vote is a common procedure for when a publicly owned street is turned over for private use because a project — in this case, the Arena — has a public benefit. In fact, the Seattle Mariners received a similar street vacation before building Safeco Field.

[Click to Embiggen]

To show your support for the arena, please email the Seattle City Council at [email protected]

– The Sonics Arena Team 

Feb 02

An Update on the Arena Approval Process

As we wait for the City Council vote on the street vacation we wanted to remind everyone of the long and involved process we've been through the past three years. We are proud of the work we have accomplished with the public, transportation and economic experts, civic and elected leaders as we move forward with our shared goal of returning the Sonics to Seattle and welcoming the NHL back to our city.

In May 2015, we shared an update on the Environmental Impact Statement work to celebrate the completion of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The FEIS, after careful analysis, supported by the initial positive input from an Expert Review Panel, confirmed that there will be no significant adverse impacts standing in the way of completing the permitting process for a new arena. We shared a summary of the FEIS findings as well.

We believe that this project is stronger because of the public involvement and expert analysis of our initial proposal. Just how far have we come? Let’s take a quick look at our shared work as we prepare for the City Council’s review of the necessary street vacation to construct the new arena in the Stadium District:

December 2011

After months of negotiations, the Mayor of Seattle and King County Executive reach agreement with Chris Hansen on a Memorandum of Understanding for the development of the SoDo Arena.

March 2012

An Arena Review Panel appointed by Mayor of Seattle and King County Executive convenes to examine the arena proposal.

April 2012

After numerous public meetings, the Arena Review Panel issues its favorable report.

"Based on their review, the Panel believes that the proposal is favorable, has promise and is generally consistent with the principles set forth by the Mayor and County Executive..."

May 2012

King County Council Expert Review Panel undertakes comprehensive review of the arena proposal.

May 2012

A Seattle Department of Transportation-commissioned multimodal transportation access and parking study is published.

"Arena event traffic is well within the existing parking, traffic and transit capacity of the area."

July 2012

 County Council Expert Review Panel issues favorable report.

"The proposed public-private partnership is one of the most favorable to the public of any recent partnership. The public investment carries little or no risk to the county’s financial well-being, its bond rating or its general fund...."

May – July 2012

King County Council Budget and Fiscal Management Committee and Seattle City Council Government Performance and Finance Committee consider the proposal in multiple public meetings.

July 2012

Joint City and County Council public hearing on proposal.

July 2012

Full County Council consideration of Arena MOU, approved with conditions.

September 2012

City Council makes additional changes and approves the MOU.

October 2012

City and County Councils both approve amended MOU. The King County Council approves the MOU 9-0 while the Seattle City Council approves 7-2.

October 18, 2012

MOU signed by Chris Hansen, Mayor of Seattle, and King County Executive.

November 2012 – September 2015

After 7 meetings over 3 years the Downtown Design Review Board grants unanimous approval of final design of the arena project.

December 2012 – September 2015

After 10 meetings over 3 years the Seattle Design Commission unanimously recommends approval of the vacation of Occidental Avenue for the arena project.

July 2013

Economic Impact Analysis published.

The new analysis of the SoDo Arena shows the facility would have "a total net positive economic benefit" of between $230 million and $286 million a year to the economy of King County, with most of the money flowing through the City of Seattle’s economy. 

— Puget Sound Business Journal

August 2013

Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) issued.

September 10, 2013

Draft EIS public hearing.

September 19, 2013

Draft EIS public hearing.

May 7, 2015

Final EIS issued.

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.

October 29, 2015

Addendum to FEIS issued.

The Seattle Department of Planning and Development re-analyzed pedestrian traffic numbers used in the EIS following concern expressed by the Seattle Mariners. Upping the Safeco Field game attendance from 13,000 to 40,000, the addendum certified that "the changes do not create additional significant impacts."

November 30, 2015

SDOT report and positive recommendation for street vacation submitted to the City Council.

“The FEIS shows that this portion of Occidental does not serve as a critical function to the street grid.”

“The FEIS shows that this portion of Occidental does not serve a critical function to maintain freight mobility.”

“The segment proposed to be vacated is not included in the Port's important Heavy Haul Network. This is a clear sign that Occidental is not necessary to freight movement or Port Operations."

“The SDOT does not find adverse land use impacts associated with the proposed vacation.”

We are humbled by the amount of support we’ve received for returning the NBA and NHL to Seattle, but we also know that we must be patient and transparent as the arena process moves forward. There’s still work to be done, but as you can see, we’ve come a really long way.

— The Sonics Arena Team

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.

Jan 27

​Arena Update

We know things have seemed pretty quiet on the arena front the past several months but there is a lot going on. So as we head into Super Bowl weekend we wanted to take a minute to give you all a quick update.

First, we want to thank Mayor Murray for his leadership. Not only has he asked his staff to look for ways to streamline and speed-up the Environmental Review Process, on his way to Washington DC last week he stopped by the NBA to meet with Commissioner Silver and express the city’s commitment to do its part to bring the NBA back to Seattle. That’s great.

The Commissioner was very positive about Seattle but couldn’t make any commitments at this point, which is really to be expected. While we understand both Sonics fans’ and the Mayor’s disappointment, the most important task at hand remains getting the EIS process wrapped-up so we will be in the position to take advantages of future opportunities that arise, which can happen quickly and without years of advance notice that building an arena requires.

The EIS is moving along at a good pace and we are getting close to having that part of the process finished. There are a few remaining issues that need to be addressed but good progress is being made and we are confident things will be wrapped-up soon. We will do our best to keep you all posted as we move forward.

Our commitment to bring the Sonics back to Seattle is as strong today as it was the first day we announced the arena project – or the day of the great rally we all enjoyed at Occidental Park. The process has been exhaustive and at times frustrating, but in the end we will have completed a big step toward our goal of bringing NBA basketball back to Seattle.

Finally, we want to send a big thanks to all of you. You have stood by us from the beginning and we appreciate that more than you know.


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

Jan 19 • Messages from Chris

On to Arizona!


Chris Hansen

​Congrats to the Seahawks on another amazing win. The unbending will and determination the team showed yesterday was truly the stuff legends are made of. Just like most of you, as the last three minutes of the game and overtime unfolded I was struck with two thoughts:

"Did this really just happen?" And "I know I'm going to be telling my grandkids someday that I was at this game and of the lore of this team."

I really didn't think anything would ever top "The Tip" from last year's NFC Championship, but this was EASILY the most memorable and momentous moment in Seattle sports history. Wow!

Congrats to Paul, Pete, John, and the entire team and organization for another amazing win, another amazing season, and another trip to the Super Bowl.   

Go get 'em guys! 

— Chris Hansen

Dec 22 • Messages from Chris

Holiday Greetings to Sonics Fans


Chris Hansen

​As we close out 2014, I wanted to take a moment to thank all the amazing fans who have stood by us as we work to bring our Sonics back to the Emerald City. I also want you all to know that we remain just as committed to bringing NBA basketball back to Seattle as we were the day we first announced Sonics Arena.

From my family to yours, have a wonderful holiday season and a healthy New Year. Bring on 2015!

— Chris Hansen

Aug 21 • In the News

Chris Hansen Takes the Ice Bucket Challenge

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