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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

Category: Seattle Mariners
April 4, 2012 at 9:40 AM

Economics of SODO arena make most sense

The Seattle Mariners objections to a new arena in SODO don’t add up when you consider that in downtown Phoenix the NBA Suns and MLB Diamondbacks play right across the street from each other, to use only one example from around the country. This sounds more like an attempt by a team run on the cheap to avoid competition from other professional sports.

Concerns from the Port of Seattle must be taken more seriously. The port is a backbone of the region’s well-paid blue-collar jobs. But I hope city and county officials use this as a starting point to address the port’s concerns than allow another Seattle Commons-like loss to happen.

The economics of the proposed arena are strong. It would be centrally located, able to use existing infrastructure, further boost the region’s downtown and benefit from connections to Link light rail and Sounder trains. A greenfield arena in the suburbs would only add traffic congestion to residential areas, potentially destroy needed open space and lack transit options for fans. The externalities — the largely unmeasured hidden costs — of a totally car-dependent new arena are huge.

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Comments | More in Downtown and urban issues, Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, Seattle Mariners, Sports business

February 28, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Phoenix: The user’s guide for Spring Training fans (great Mexican food is just the beginning)

It’s time for the annual Spring Training scouting report from your economics columnist, a fourth-generation Arizonan. By the time you get to Phoenix, look around and resolve never to build a metropolitan economy like this: Overly dependent on housing, population growth and low-wage service and tourism jobs. Now to the fun stuff, for when you’re not watching baseball.

Out in suburban Peoria, you might think Phoenix has no soul. Although the sprawl developers have done their best to pave it over, it still beats — but you’ll have to drive to find it, as with everything in this car-dependent metro-blob. The historic districts of the nation’s fifth-largest city are just north of downtown and worth the trip for the beautiful, real neighborhoods, houses with character and a sense of what Phoenix was like when it was an oasis surrounded by citrus groves, flower fields and agriculture. They’re around McDowell and Central, and include Willo, Palmcroft, F.Q. Storey, Roosevelt and Alvarado. The old city also still has Encanto Park, nestled into Palmcroft, a gem.

While you’re in central Phoenix, check out two fine museums, just one stop apart on the Metro light-rail line: the Phoenix Art Museum and the Heard Museum, the latter with one of the world’s finest collections of tribal art from the Southwest. Also on Central: the main library building designed by Will Bruder. Drive farther north on Central between Bethany Home and the Arizona Canal, and you’ll get a sense of the lushness that was once abundant here.

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Comments | More in Seattle Mariners, Spring Training


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