We’re happy today to release some preliminary designs for the seating bowl in the new Seattle arena. Fans will see that the design features some non-traditional elements that are inspired by the unique sports culture of the Seattle market. Most notably, the upper seating bowl is dramatically shortened and the top rows are replaced with three stacked balconies (what we have dubbed the “Sonic Rings”) that slant inward toward center court as they stack. We believe these balcony levels provide several key advantages versus traditional upper bowl seating including:

  • Improved Viewing Angles: The creation of the Sonic Rings and resulting ability to significantly increase steepness of the lower bowl, results in MARKEDLY improved sight lines for all seating categories
  • Reduced stratification between seating levels: Creating a more vibrant, festive, and social experience in the upper levels and giving typically premium seating amenities to all of our fans
  • Significant Flex Capacity: In addition to seating for over 2,000 patrons, the design of the Sonic Rings allows for significant incremental standing room capacity so we can “flex up” for the big game or “flex down” for more intimate events
  • Increased Intimacy, Energy… and Noise: We believe that pushing the entirety of the seating bowl closer to the court and having 2,000-4,000 fans literally overhanging the game not only creates the most intimate venue in the NBA, but will also provide you with the opportunity to create the loudest, most energetic atmosphere in yet another pro sport—or better yet two!
  • More Cost Effective and Sustainable Building: This introduction of the Sonic Rings and resulting compression of the seating bowl significantly reduces the roof spans — which makes for a more cost-effective and sustainable building

There are unconventional elements in the premium seating areas as well. The lower levels suites are located less than ten rows off the floor—and even closer to the ice. They’re designed as “pocket” suites that give direct suite access to the suite holders without creating an unsightly gap in the camera view of the lower seating level. We believe the upper suite level also represents both an evolution in Arena design and a recognition of the unique attributes of the Seattle Business Community. Instead of creating a level of “hermetically sealed” suites with a dedicated corridor that speaks to status superiority and isolation, we have instead opted for a flexible “Loge Suite” design that will allow us to offer varying suite layouts to groups and businesses of all sizes. The suite layouts provide a much more social, inclusive and fun atmosphere around shared bars and amenities with a balcony that overlooks the main club.

Again, the major point here is that our seating bowl design will maximize the intensity of the game experience and minimize the stratification of the different tiers of tickets. Both of these design goals we believe will strongly appeal to the Seattle sports community.
We designed the unconventional seating bowl to be ideally suited for music as well. The uniqueness of the seating bowl and flex capacity of the Sonic Rings create a much more intimate venue for concerts of varying sizes. The Sonic Rings will also have sound treatment directly behind their seats, adding to the natural sound absorption of the rings themselves.
In the coming months, we will begin announcing some of our sustainable building features. There will be renewable energy features as well as an aggressive water recapture and cisterning solution that will reuse rainwater inside the building and in the water features in the north plaza.
And in case you missed it, the exterior is a “SuperSonic” jet turbine . . . not a flan!

See how Sonics Arena compares to some other arenas below.

— Chris Hansen