Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, along with King County Executive Dow Constantine and hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen wrapped up a scheduled 11:45 a.m. press conference not long ago, announcing that with the citizen advisory committee tasked with reviewing Hansen's arena proposal officially giving its blessing to move ahead on the project, they're now ready to embark on the next stated step in the process - a traffic impact study to be funded by Hansen. The study will look at existing and planned infrastructure in Sodo, and attempt to clarify what will be needed, and what's already in place, should an NBA/NHL arena be built in the area.
Mayor McGinn told the swath of gathered reporters that footing the bill for the study shows Hansen's commitment to the project, though Hansen would not comment on how much the review will cost -- a stance that obviously irritated the large congregation of reporters gathered. A firm that specializes in these sorts of studies has already been hired.
Despite recent concerns raised by the Mariners and the shipping industry in the Sodo area about the possible traffic impacts of a new arena, Hansen, while noting he's not a "traffic expert," said that, in his mind, the Sodo area provides the best option for building an arena in Seattle. "Traffic was one of the key benefits of this site," Hansen said. He also noted that there's a constituency with "valid concerns," and that the traffic study he'll be funding will hopefully identify answers for all those concerns.
Saying he's a fan of the Seahawks, Sounders and Mariners, a casually-dressed Hansen stated that the goal is to find an outcome that works for everyone and provides the best solution for getting an arena built.
There was no word on who will pay for additional traffic infrastructure that might be needed.
Mayor McGinn said the traffic study is expected to look at how people would access the arena, suggest ways to enhance access and transportation to the area, study existing and possibly needed parking, and outline new arena transportation plans.
The mayor also confirmed that the City of Seattle and King County hope to have a Memorandum of Understanding in place by June so Hansen can make his pitches to the NBA and NHL, saying they're "moving as quickly as we can."