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City Council votes down arena plan in impassioned meeting

caption: The proposed arena would sit south of Safeco Field.
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The proposed arena would sit south of Safeco Field.
Flickr Photo/SDOT Photos (CC BY NC 2.0)/

Few expected this Seattle City Council decision.

The council voted against giving up a street in Sodo to make way for a proposed arena. An investor group hoping to bring the NBA to Seattle needed that street to build its arena.


The meeting itself resembled a basketball game. People wore jerseys, waved signs and the crowd cheered at times. In public comment, citizens like Andrew Wergeland-Rammage hoped for a yes vote.

Wergeland-Rammage: "Please, bottom of your hearts, just say yes. Thank you, you guys are awesome."

One-by-one City Council members voiced their decision. With the council split four to four, Lorena Gonzalez broke the tie.

Gonzalez: "We need to make sure that we are committed to a robust traffic mitigation strategy. I don't believe that the traffic issues have been well dealt with and today I am going to vote no on the street vacation."

"No" votes also came from Sally Bagshaw, Lisa Herbold, Debora Juarez and Kshama Sawant.

The vote denies a plan to sell investors two blocks of Occidental Avenue South in Sodo. It comes after three years of studies on the proposed arena and new friendly agreements with owners of the Mariners, Seahawks and Sounders.

The vote will please the Port of Seattle commission, which opposed the plan. But SuperSonics fans quickly went to social media sharing fears that this will close the book on Seattle securing a new NBA team.

The city is bound to an agreement to give public funding for a new arena, if the city or investor group gets rights to an NBA team. It's unclear how this vote changes the agreement.

Some, like Bagshaw, are still interested in seeing Key Arena remodeled under NBA specifications.

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