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Seattle Mariners emerge as a roadblock for the NBA to return to Seattle

By Royce Young | NBA writer
Things appeared to be progressing well for a potential return of basketball to Seattle. An arena deal led by Chris Hansen (no, not that Chris Hansen) was in motion, which is the first step in getting the NBA back.

But this time it's not local government that stands in the way. It's the Seattle Mariners. Via the Seattle Times, the Mariners aren't happy with the arena plan.

In a strongly worded letter to city and county leaders, the Seattle Mariners say to find another spot for a new sports arena. "The proposed Sodo location, in our view, simply does not work," wrote team Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Howard Lincoln, in a letter Tuesday to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Executive Dow Constantine and members of the Seattle and King County councils.

"It would bring scheduling, traffic and parking challenges that would likely require hundreds of millions of dollars to mitigate."

The letter comes a day after the Port of Seattle wrote a similar letter to the city's Arena Advisory Panel studying the proposal. In that letter, Seaport Managing Director Linda Styrk warned of negative impacts on Port operations, potentially putting thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in maritime business revenue at risk.

"Based on the information provided so far, this project may put those jobs and economic benefits at serious risk without significant mitigation," she wrote.

Lincoln did express support of bringing the NBA back, but just not near what he sees as his turf. He suggests Bellevue, Renton, Seattle Center and South Lake Union as possible destinations.

Hansen, a San Francisco hedge-fund manager, has proposed making a $290 million private investment in a $490 million new arena in Sodo, as well as purchasing an NBA team and securing an NHL team for the arena. According to the report, Hansen declined comment about the Mariners' letter. He said he chose the Sodo area because it is zoned for arenas and includes easy public transportation.

Brian Robinson, who started Save Our Sonics and runs ArenaSolution.org, said some of his supporters received polling calls asking whether they would support a sports arena over public schools, or a sports arena over low-income housing, according to the report.

"The Mariners have emerged as the No. 1 opponents to the new arena," he told the paper.

So there you go. If the city of Seattle wants the NBA back, it might not be David Stern or city government to overcome. It might be the Mariners. How about that.
 
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