The Warriors' impending return to S.F. “is a blow both to Oakland's pride and its chances for transforming” the O.co Coliseum site into a sports and entertainment center, according to Matthew Artz of the OAKLAND TRIBUNE. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement, “Coliseum City is the long-term development project that was never dependent on any one tenant.” Council member Larry Reid, whose district includes the Coliseum site, said that Oakland “needed to turn its focus to the Raiders and the A's now that the Warriors are leaving town.” Reid: “I’m really disappointed, but I know it’s a business.” Artz noted Oakland and Alameda County "own the Coliseum land, but they need the teams to finance the stadium construction -- a prospect that seems increasingly unlikely." The Raiders have “expressed a preference to stay in Oakland but have not come forth with plans to build a new Coliseum” (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 5/23).
GOODBYE NEIGHBOR: A’s Owner Lew Wolff said, “Our situation is not impacted by decisions in other professional sports." Wolff: “I think the future potential of the Warriors is huge, and a modern venue will enhance that opportunity” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/24). In California, Carl Steward wrote MLB Commissioner Bud Selig “doesn’t have the heart to tell his old frat buddy ‘no,’ and Lew Wolff won’t take an implied ‘no’ for an answer” (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 5/19).
An independent study on a proposed sports arena's effect on congestion in Seattle's Sodo neighborhood "has found that the existing infrastructure could support the thousands of additional cars and people who would attend NBA and NHL games," according to Nick Eaton of SEATTLEPI.com. A study released yesterday indicated that even on weeknights with two events -- one at the arena and one at either Safeco Field or CenturyLink Field -- existing or planned "parking lots and transit options could handle the extra traffic." The study also found that the impact on "operations at the Port of Seattle, surrounding industries and train yards would be minimal." The study, conducted by Washington-based firm Parametrix and paid for by hedge fund manager and arena investor Chris Hansen, "took a look at the estimated turnout for a 20,000-seat multipurpose sports venue and found that 6,000 cars would descend on the area for an average weeknight game" (SEATTLEPI.com, 5/23). In Seattle, Emily Heffter notes in a front-page piece the $70,000 study "didn't seem to sway anyone in the debate" over the proposed arena. Freight and Port of Seattle reps said that the study "didn't do enough analysis to ease their concerns about the arena's potential effect on traffic." The four-week study was "cursory," and the consultant "didn't look at data showing traffic flow by time on game days or recommend any major road improvements to accommodate the new arena." Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has argued that it is "not fair to hold Hansen responsible for fixing problems that already exist in Sodo" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/24).
SURVEY SAYS: In Seattle, Lynn Thompson reported a recent poll conducted by Seattle-based Elway Research found that 63% of Seattle voters and 61% of King County (non-Seattle) voters indicated that "any new professional sports arena should be privately financed and that there should be no risk of any public money being needed to pay for the arena." The poll showed half of King County respondents and 49% of Seattle respondents "believed the Sodo location was a good one." Almost the same percentages "supported paying for infrastructure necessary to improve transportation around the arena." However, 61% of Seattle voters and 54% of King County voters said "no" when asked if they would "choose committing taxpayer dollars to the arena versus no arena." The poll "surveyed 201 registered Seattle voters and 207 King County voters." The poll results were released as the Port of Seattle sent a letter to the Seattle and county councils asking that consideration of a Memorandum of Understanding with Hansen "be given close scrutiny." McGinn and King County Exec Dow Constantine last week announced an MOU with Hansen under which he and private investment group ArenaCo. would pay to build a new arena and buy an NBA team (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/23). SEATTLEPI.com's Eaton noted an "unscientific" Seattle Times poll Tuesday of nearly 1,000 people showed 74% of respondents "were supportive of Hansen's plan." Meanwhile, Hansen "indicated that he plans to launch a promotional campaign for the arena in the next few weeks, including a presence on Facebook and Twitter" (SEATTLEPI.com, 5/22).
The Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. yesterday "recommended that Commissioners Court ask voters to renovate Reliant Astrodome into a multipurpose venue" for $270M and replace aging Reliant Arena for $385.4M, according to Morris & Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. If the Commissioners Court "wants a smaller price tag, the Dome could be demolished and replaced with a park plaza for $64 million." The Astrodome renovation would entail "stripping the seats out of the 47-year-old stadium, upgrading or replacing its mechanical systems, sprucing up the roof and exterior and installing a floor at street level." Populous architectural consultant firm Founder & Senior Principal Dennis Wellner said that the multipurpose Dome "could be used to host concerts of all sizes, as well as football, soccer and hockey games, basketball and tennis tournaments, livestock shows, conventions and other events." While the Astrodome has a higher profile, Sports Corp. Chair Edgardo Colon said that "consultants believe replacing Reliant Arena is a higher priority, and would allow the county to better compete for events, shows and conventions" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/24). In N.Y., Fernandez & Cadis write, "The other three options were keeping the stadium as it is and doing nothing, tearing it down to build an outdoor plaza or turning it into a multipurpose facility, but with added retail, dining and entertainment attractions" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/24).