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Port Arena Analysis Lacks Data, Details
Having finally slogged through all three of the Port of Seattle's reports that they released yesterday on the proposed SoDo arena and its likely impact on the Port, I'm not seeing much that we haven't heard from the Port already.
The arena, they've claimed since virtually the very beginning of the arena debate, will: Create traffic havoc; lead to an influx of non-industrial development (and gentrification) in the Duwamish industrial area; lead to a parking shortage in the area; increase the likelihood of collisions between Port-bound trains and pedestrians; make it harder for Safeco Field users to access the Safeco parking garage; and destroy well-paying, scarce industrial and manufacturing jobs.
Additionally, the reports conclude, the arena agreement does not include sufficient environmental reviews, does not consider other, potentially superior, arena locations, and does not include an adequate study of the transportation impacts of a new arena on the area in general and the Port specifically.
The problem, as KOMO radio host Schram and I agreed yesterday (!), is that none of these concerns are new---and few are backed up by solid data, despite the reports' cumulative 80-page bulk. Instead, the reports consist mostly of unsupported allegations---additional pedestrian traffic will lead to more deaths from train collisions, because "past experience" has found that it will; game-related congestion "could" impede nighttime Port traffic, but it's hard to know how much because that traffic won't exist until some point in the future, assuming the Port hits its long-term container traffic goals (the traffic stats are all based on hypothetical future Port expansion); and arena supporters' mitigation and traffic management plans are inadequate because they are.
There are some valuable suggestions in the reports. The city should do a thorough traffic and freight analysis, a detailed analysis of parking impacts, and an analysis of the arena's likely impact on the industrial areas surrounding the proposed site. But those suggestions are merely that---opinions, expressed many times before, about what kind of work the city and arena proponents should do before the city signs off on the deal.
I'm certainly an arena skeptic. (A skeptic who's open to being convinced, but still, personally, a skeptic). But by producing reports that rely chiefly on speculation, worst-case scenarios, and what-ifs instead of modeling and data, the Port isn't making a convincing case against the arena. Instead, it's making it clear that it has its mind made up.
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- This Week in Restaurant News: Big Openings and Big News
- An Eater’s Guide to the Malls
- Update: Zara Seattle
- Murray Announces More Top Hires
- 5 Reasons to Get Excited About Joey Kitchen
- Behind the Scenes: Seattle Designer Reina Acab of Le Notre
- Four Observations About Today's Murray Announcement
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