SEATTLE - The National Hockey League is waiting. The National Basketball Association is monitoring it, and Chris Hansen has quietly been waiting for the work to be done.

Yet, it does not appear the Environmental Impact Study on the Seattle Arena proposal is close to finalization.

That s according to Bryan Stevens, the spokesperson for the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, which is overseeing the EIS process.

City staff and the EIS consultants are still waiting for information from the applicant. No formal update has been made to the schedule, Stevens wrote in an email. Earlier this year, it was estimated that production of the Final EIS likely would take about four months after all outstanding information was supplied. So at this point in time, no sooner than November 2014.

When asked if, in theory, investor Hansen and his team could supply the information needed and speed up the process, Stevens said not really.

If the requested material is provided, then the information will be reviewed and compiled into the Final EIS document. That process would take around four months to complete before it s published, wrote Stevens.

The FEIS will prompt at least a couple public meetings after that. The Seattle City Council and King County Councils will then have a final chance to weigh in on the project, including the proposed Occidental street vacation, and approve final transaction documents. If that occurs, it will be up to Hansen to find an NBA team to prompt construction, as it stands right now.

Sources close to the process, speaking on and off the record, say the project has become complicated for a multitude of reasons.

There are a lot of moving parts, acknowledged Katy Cheney, whose firm is producing a lot of the research as a third party consultant. Her firm, URS, is doing the work for the city, and the invoices are being paid by Hansen.

Cheney points to issues involving the planned waterfront tunnel, and how tolling may force more drivers into SODO. She also notes City Light s planned Denny substation, near South Lake Union, has an impact on the Massachusetts substation near the proposed Stadium site. The two sites need to be connected.

There is a question of how those transmission wires and lines are going to be routed.

Scott Thomsen with Seattle City Light says the utility expects the transmission line between the two substations to be connected in the first quarter of 2016. How the city and Hansen plan to work with each other on that issue is something that needs to be sorted out in the EIS process.

Transportation is another major factor complicating the EIS process. The tunnel/tolling issue is just one factor for the city and Hansen. Sources close to the process say the Holgate Street side of the project to the south, and Massachusetts side to the north, are both getting heavy scrutiny. The Mariners have agreed to a slight variance on the Massachusetts side, which the franchise believes will help straighten out the entrance the South Side of the parking garage. However, according to those same sources, the Mariners have told the city it does not have extra capacity in the garage for additional events in the area, like at a proposed arena. That is likely a major reason why Hansen closed a deal on a piece of property larger than either the Safeco garage or Century Link Field garage, just south of Holgate.

Rick Sheridan, a spokesperson for SDOT, says the agency has provided a long list of research, and strengthened the transportation chapter, including congested intersections and suggestions for deliveries and pedestrians in the area.

All these issues will be compared to two other potential arena sites, at Key Arena or Memorial Stadium.

There will also be a no-build option. One source close to the process says the Seattle City Attorney s Office has also been consulted, so the study and the project can hold up to legal challenges. The Arena s Memorandum of Understanding, approved by both councils that includes the funding mechanism for the arena, expires in 2017.

City and county leaders, not connected with the process, say they are unconcerned about the delay and what it may mean for the ultimate completion of the arena.

Sung Yang, the King County Executive s Office Chief of Staff, says, These processes take time. We knew this would be a detailed, lengthy process.

Seattle City Councilman Bruce Harrell, an arena proponent, says the biggest issue in his mind is they gotta get a darn team. About the delay, Harrell says, This train is not going down a different path. It s not going to derail the project.

The NHL is widely believed to be anxious to bring a team to the Seattle market. The league s commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly both flew to Seattle earlier this year, along with potential owner Victor Coleman. They all met with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine. Bettman later said the meeting was to get an update on the status of the arena. Murray says the league leaders also asked the city about the possibility of changing the Memorandum of Understanding on the arena, to allow for an NHL team to prompt construction.

The NBA s new commissioner Adam Silver has spoke highly of Seattle in recent months, even after Hansen s contentious purchase of the Sacramento Kings. However, it s not likely the league will talk about expanding until it settles its new television and digital rights contract. Hansen s friend and former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, who was part of the Kings bid, looked primed to close a deal to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers and has pledged to keep his $2 billion acquisition in California.

Read or Share this story: