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John Batchelor

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Rantz: Shockingly ignorant, disingenuous KeyArena traffic claims

(File, Associated Press)

One of the groups trying to earn the renovation project at KeyArena thinks you’re all shockingly, strikingly, unequivocally dumb. That’s my takeaway from an interview on the Dori Monson Show with Oak View Group’s Director of Special Projects Lance Lopes.

RELATED: Arena group pitches vision for Seattle Center traffic

“At 5:30 at any given night, traffic on Mercer headed toward KeyArena is nonexistent,” Lopes said. “I took some photos the other night, I couldn’t get pictures with cars in them. Eastbound, headed for the freeway, I absolutely agree. That is the Mercer Mess that all of us refer to. But I would simply say that if people are telling you that Mercer, this beautiful three-lane boulevard headed into Seattle Center, KeyArena, is a congested mess in the drive time – they’re simply misstating the facts.”

Just some initial thoughts:

  1. It’s possible he got lost and wasn’t actually on Mercer Avenue when he conducted this photo experiment to spot a car at 5:30 p.m. He couldn’t get pictures with cars in them? What time zone was he actually in? He must have so little respect for you that he thinks you’re dumb enough to fall for that absurd claim.
  1. I certainly concede that the “beautiful three-lane boulevard” is less traveled towards the Seattle Center in the afternoon drive (when compared to those headed to I-5), but this is irrelevant. I’d be curious to find out how Lopes got to the spot he was perched, unable to take a photograph with a car in it on Mercer. As someone who actually lives near Mercer, I can tell you unequivocally that it’s a nightmare getting to Mercer in the afternoon. The cars don’t just magically materialize on Mercer. Right now, it’s a nightmare just getting to Mercer on side-streets. They’re currently jam packed with traffic. Consider, for a moment, the impact of thousands of more drivers trying to get to that “beautiful three-lane boulevard” from within the city.
  1. He does realize that I-5 at the Mercer exit can be an absolute mess, right? North or South, it’s congested during your average afternoon commute. Again, imagine thousands more being added to that commute, as they try to attend a basketball game.

What about parking? Dori implied it would be an issue. Lopes’ response? “That’s what we call 2007 thinking.” Uhm, no, it’s 2017 thinking.

He continues, in one breath:

“I think people keep going back to 2007 and the Sonics and the way they used to access that facility, and we think there is an entirely different paradigm coming.”

But then, in another:

“The Monorail is something that I know many people have long known about but very, very few people have ever really embraced as a mass-transit solution, but it was built in 1962 to move millions of people.”

To be clear: We need to ignore 2007 thinking, but embrace a mode of transportation built in 1962? And despite never embracing it, if a new arena is built, we’ll all hop on for a ride. Got it, thanks.

Lopes claimed that, within a 15-minute walk of KeyArena, there are more than 11,000 “available parking spots.” I’d love to see this data. I believe there are over 11,000 spots; but, again, since I actually live in the area, if they’re claiming there are, at any given moment, 11,000 open spots, I’ll have to dismiss that absurd claim. I just don’t believe that. I’m willing to bet these spaces are currently used; go to the area right now and tell me how easy it is to find a spot. It’s nearly impossible on a Saturday night when you’re trying to get to an IMAX film, but during a game there will be 11,000-plus spots?

He goes on to envision a system where they contract with open lots a program where you can reserve a spot ahead of time for easy parking access. When Dori suggested $20 for a spot three blocks away from the stadium, Lopes said “Exactly!” Oh right. Parking for CenturyLink during a Seahawks game can hit obscene amounts, but somehow OVG will not only create a tech-system unlike any we’re familiar with, but convince lots that they’re better off charging $20 for parking, instead of $60-$100.

Lopes is a salesman. A bad one. He wants you to believe this so that his group gets to renovate KeyArena, which will make that company a lot of profit. And if you believe this bad sales pitch, you deserve the traffic nightmare that we get.

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