In a 5-4 vote, the Seattle City Council rejected a proposal that would vacate Occidental Avenue in Seattle’s SoDo district, in order to build a new NBA or NHL arena. The vote continues to complicate arena investor Chris Hansen’s plan to bring an NBA team back to Seattle.
If approved, the proposal would allow Hansen to buy and vacate a one-block stretch of land in order to build the Seattle Arena. The vote was the last step needed before the City of Seattle could issue a permit for the project.
Without a guaranteed venue, Hansen will have difficultly luring in an NBA or NHL franchise.
Council President Bruce Harrell and council members Tim Burgess, Rob Johnson and Mike O’ Brien voted yes. However, council members Sally Bagshaw, Lorena Gonzalez, Lisa Herbold, Debora Juarez and Kshama Sawant voted no.
The backlash from the vote was swift. The City Council voted along gender lines, with all five female council members rejecting the proposal. Hundreds of people – almost all men – lashed out at the female council members saying they didn’t understand the importance of sports because they were women.
“[The vote] makes it less likely that the NBA will return,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said.
Hansen had a more optimistic outlook though.
“We don’t believe it is the end of the road in our quest to bring the NBA and NHL back to Seattle,” Hansen said.
If Hansen is able to secure a team before his agreement with Seattle and King County expires in late 2017, the council could possibly reconsider vacating part of Occidental Avenue.
Other proposed sites include one near downtown Bellevue and another near Boeing Field in Tukwila.