Agreement reached on stadium event scheduling; SODO Arena jumps another hurdle

This afternoon it was announced that the Seattle Seahawks, The Seattle Mariners, and Chris Hansen’s organization have reached an agreement on cooperative scheduling for events in order to minimize traffic concerns with overlapping events.

A press release from Council members Burgess, Harrell, Johnson and O’Brien pointed to a new draft amendment, with the agreed-upon language, which will be proposed for insertion into the Council’s ordinance granting a street vacation for Occidental Avenue in order to make room for construction of the proposed SODO Arena. The Council will take up the ordinance Monday afternoon and is expected to take a final vote on it at that time.

“At the Council’s urging, the key stakeholders came together and I think discovered they had many common interests when it comes to scheduling and access,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess. “Now we know for certain that if a new arena is built we can avoid the scheduling and access conflicts that have been discussed for so long.”

“We have to recognize that fans arrive early, fans leave early, and nobody wins in traffic congestion,” said Council President Bruce Harrell. “I am pleased that an agreement that balances our traffic and safety needs and the fan experience has been reached.”

“Despite ongoing differences about a preferred location for an NBA/NHL arena, our professional sports teams have set aside their differences and worked collaboratively on how to address scheduling conflicts,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “The result is an agreement that required compromises from all parties but will work for each team. I appreciate all parties work to resolve this conflict.”

“I’m excited that we’ve found a solution to the scheduling concerns,” said Councilmember Rob Johnson. “This agreement shows that with cooperation and planning, we can maximize mobility for all users – drivers, transit riders, trucks and fans – and bring the NBA and NHL to Seattle.”

The new language specifies that there are no restrictions on events at the Arena when attendance is expected to be under 5,000 people. However, according to the press release the following restrictions will apply for larger events:

  • With very limited exceptions, no Major Event at the arena can start between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on a Weekday.
  • No Major Event at the arena can overlap with Major Events at each of the two other stadia if the combined anticipated attendance at all venues would exceed 45,000 on a Weekday or 55,0000 on a Weekend.
  • For NBA regular season games, the Arena will make its best efforts to work with the NBA to avoid overlapping with Mariners and Sounders home games or other Major Events at CenturyLink Field. If there are unavoidable overlaps, the NBA game will start at least one hour after the other event. Exceptions can be made for NBA playoff games.
  • Major Events other than NBA games at the Arena cannot be scheduled to overlap with a Major Event at either of the stadia if the combined anticipated attendance at the two events would exceed 45,000 on a Weekday or 55,0000 on a Weekend.
  • For events that occur on the same day but do not overlap, there will be at least 3 hours between the projected end time of the first event and scheduled start of the second event.


Don’t expect the Port of Seattle and longshoremen’s union to drop their opposition; and curiously the Seattle Mariners, despite being a party to this agreement, voiced strong opposition as recently as yesterday — though perhaps that was simply a negotiating tactic.

The scheduling agreement was “nearly a dealbreaker” for Harrell, so this was a necessary action to secure his vote. At this point there are four obvious “yes” votes on the street vacation ordinance:  Burgess, Johnson, Harrell and O’Brien (and it’s interesting that those are the four men on the Council). The other five have been silent this week, though the agreement is probably not enough to stop Council member Bagshaw from voting “no,” and Herbold is rumored to also be in the “no” camp.  That leaves Juarez, Gonzalez and Sawant in play.

Monday afternoon is going to be interesting.