The push for a new arena in downtown Seattle took another step as new images have been released of three possible designs. Seattle's KING5-TV has a collection of renderings of the three options, all designed by the Kansas City, MO firm, 360 Architecture. The proposed arena will be located in Seattle's SoDo (South of Downtown) neighborhood, near both Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field.
The arena is currently projected to cost $490 million, and will seat upwards of 19,000 fans and feature an on-site practice facility. The site is near established public transit routes.
Initial response to the images was not entirely positive. Seattle-based architect and critic Mark Hinshaw remarked in the Seattle Times that the images "seem like 'boxes with a tight lid' that could be any number of public buildings."
In the cases of option #2 and the firm's preferred choice #3 (shown above), I would have to agree. Both resemble convention centers that could be in any city. Neither really conveys imagery of the Pacific Northwest, and at the very least would be heavily-overshadowed by the creative, functional designs of Safeco and CenturyLink.
Option #1 is the circular option and looks incredibly similar to Kansas City's Sprint Center, of which 360 was also part of the design team. We should keep in mind that these are just preliminary renderings and there is plenty of time for the design to be altered or scrapped entirely. The designs go before a review board next month where the public is allowed to comment.
After the Sonics left town in 2008 to become the OKC Thunder, proponents for a replacement for the aged KeyArena mobilized to push for a new arena to hopefully lure back an NBA team, while also having the capability to house an NHL team. Chris Hansen, a hedge fund manager and Seattle native, stepped forward as a lead investor in the arena plan and would be the majority owner of the basketball team. A lifelong Sonics fan, Hansen has assembled a private/public "partnership" to fund the new arena, which includes $200 million from Seattle and King County. Note that construction on the facility will not begin until Hansen secures ownership of an NBA team. KeyArena would most likely be utilized for a couple seasons while construction is underway.
All the drama surrounding the downfall of the Sonics was chronicled in the documentary Sonicsgate (free to watch on youtube). Although very biased, it's from the perspective of diehard fans who lost their beloved team, not due to fan neglect, but rather profit motive and potential revenue streams. Much like Winnipeg Jets fans continued to wear gear for the team years after the franchise moved to Phoenix, Seattle basketball fans have never wavered in their love of the Sonics. In fact the official site for the arena project is SonicsArena.com.
While 360's work covers many types of architecture, notable work in their sports portfolio includes MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, Columbus, Ohio's Nationwide Arena and the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition, the firm is responsible for the designs for upcoming facilities for MLS' San Jose Earthquakes and the NHL's Edmonton Oilers, as well the ongoing reconstruction of the University of Washington's Husky Stadium.