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Taking a closer look at 4 potential Sounders stadium sites in Seattle

This is Part 2 of our a four-part series looking at sites most suitable to host Sounders games.

Mike Russell/Sounder at Heart

There has not been a single public utterance from the Seattle Sounders that they intend to even pursue building their own stadium. But after Taylor Twellman suggested that's exactly what the Sounders are going to do once Garth Lagerwey is hired, that got us thinking: Where might the Sounders look if they were going to build a stadium?

In Part 1, we gave a general overview and provided eight possible locations that seemed to meet our basic criteria. We also addressed Seattle Center, which we don't think is currently feasible. You can read all about that here. (Note from the author: Please take a moment to review the criteria set forth in Part 1. It will hopefully answer or address a lot of questions and concerns.)

In today's Part 2, we're going to take a closer look at the four Seattle locations we identified. This is, by no means, a complete list, nor is it meant to be. Plenty of people have suggested other locations, some of which have tons of their own merit, but these were the ones we liked best. Before moving forward, it's important to note that the City of Seattle is in the process of establishing a Stadium District that would restrict many of these locations from moving forward. You can read about this here. (Note from the author: I wasn't aware of this until very recently, or I would have addressed it in this piece. Shout to Matt Tucker of Sonics Rising for putting me onto it. I'm happy to discuss it in the comments.) With all of that in mind, here's an overview of what we found with in Seattle:

seattle sites

(An interactive version of this map can be found here.)

Site 1

Location: Bound by S Holgate St, Airport Way S, S Stacy St, and Railroad tracks.

Area: Approximately 23 Acres

site 1

Site 2

Location: Bound by S Holgate St, Airport Way S, S Massachusetts St, and 6th Ave S.

Area: Approximately 15.5 Acres

site 2

Site 3

Location: Bound by S Lander St, 4th Ave S, S Hanford St, and railroad tracks.

Area: Approximately 21 Acres

site 3

All three of these sites are conveniently located within a short distance of (at least) one light rail station. They each present their own challenges, but I think they'd all be feasible. Sites 1 & 3 could possibly accommodate both a stadium and parking on-site, which is a bonus. However, both would probably require a north/south alignment, which isn't optimal, but isn't a big deal in a scenario where money is no object, like this one. (Note: As we did when looking at Seattle Center, we used Sunderland's Stadium of Light as our model. It fits about 49,000 fans and is relatively modern, which fit our basic criteria. h/t to Devlin Rose for mocking this up.)

Site 2 would allow for the optimal alignment, but probably wouldn't allow for much parking on-site. It's debatable whether massive parking infrastructure would be required here anyway - with the Safeco and CenturyLink garages a few blocks away, and the potential Sonics Arena nearby as well, parking demands could be reduced (though I imagine the City would still require it on some level.)

Vehicular access to these sites isn't great, but it isn't horrible, either. In all likelihood it probably wouldn't be much worse than the other stadiums are now, but without a full traffic analysis I can't really speculate. Speaking plainly, I eyeballed it; this isn't really my area of expertise. If there are any traffic afficionados out there, please chime in in the comments.

None of these locations have a huge amount going on in the vicinity as far as bars and restaurants are concerned. This is the case with pretty much every one of these sites. My assumption is that if the stadium was built, this kind of infrastructure would follow it wherever it ended up. Keep that in mind moving forward.

Personally, I think Site 2 is the best of this bunch.  Parking is the piece I worry the least about - it doesn't necessarily have to be attached to the stadium to be functional, and there are areas around the site that could host a parking lot if necessary. It also is only 4 parcels, which would (in theory, anyway) make the acquisition process easier.

Site 4

Location: Bound by West Seattle Bridge, 6th Ave S, S Dakota St, and Airport Way S

Area: Approximately 26.5 Acres

site 4

This area is interesting. It doesn't presently have any light rail infrastructure in the area, though Sound Transit has studied West Seattle as a potential corridor for expansion. Getting there by car would be awkward, but not impossible - South Sound folks could take 99 to 1st Avenue and arrive there without much hassle.

Personally, I think this site is a non-starter, but it's one of the only areas in the City that's big enough while simultaneously unencumbered by railroad right-of-way. In my opinion, this option is clearly inferior to the previous three.

And one more...

In the comments of Part 1, a potential Terminal 46 site was brought up and discussed, and I also had some discussions about it on Twitter. It's a very, very interesting idea for obvious reasons, not least of which is its proximity to the existing stadiums and their accompanying infrastructure, bars/restaurants, etc. I only see two major issues with it. The first is that the Port of Seattle is an important element of the local economy, and it is likely the City would face stiff opposition from various industrial and shipping interests were any proposal brought forward. Unless, of course, Terminal 46 falls into disuse, in which case it would be worth a look.

The second major issue with Terminal 46 is, put simply, how the hell do you engineer a stadium in this location to be earthquake safe? I'm sure they could figure something out, but it's not a location that makes me feel particularly safe. Not that CLink or Safeco is much better, but still.

A few other sites that came up were the Roosevelt Resevoir (right in the middle of a residential area) and Interbay Golf Course (access nightmare), both sites that I love in a vaccuum, but that wouldn't work in any practical sense.

That's all for Seattle. In Part 3, we'll take a look at the Tukwila and Bellevue options. In Part 4, we'll dive into staying at CenturyLink Field and why that may end up making the most sense.

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