My Opinions about the Seattle Center

by Bob Fleming

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There have been a number of suggestions for improving the Seattle Center, including eliminating some places, remodeling some, and/or adding some.

Key Arena — Built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair as the “Colliseum,” now known as Key Arena, this structure was the home of the Seattle Supersonics NBA basketball team and was also used for many other events. Several years ago the Supersonics were stolen, er, purchased and moved to Oklahoma City. The Women’s NBA team, the Seattle Storm, still plays here, and there are a number of other events, but Key Arena is not used as much as before the Sonics left.

The Seattle Storm — Keep them at Key Arena if possible, provided they pay fair rent and do not depend on city financial support. The Seattle Storm WNBA professional women’s basketball team has been purchased by a Seattle-Area group and will stay at Key Arena.

The Seattle Center Monorail — Modernize it, using the design for the Green Line, with Hitachi trains. Build a new station at Westlake Center. Build a new station at Seattle Center just south of the existing station. Extend the monorail to Key Arena via Thomas Street. Remodel the existing station into a Monorail Museum. Build a portion of the Green Line from Key Arena to Interbay, where parking lots and/or garages would provide parking for the Seattle Center, with connections via the monorail and buses, relieving congestion and parking problems around the Seattle Center.

The new monorail would demonstrate a modern design for a mass transit monorail, and may be eligible for federal funding as a demonstration project, and for assistance from Hitachi to promote the Hitachi system to other North American cities.

For more about my opinions about a new Seattle Center Monorail, please click here.

Memorial Stadium — Some people argue for tearing it down and using the space for other purposes but others defend the stadium as a memorial and as a venue for high school football. I am currently undecided on the issue of demolition, but if it is retained, it should be remodeled and provision should be made for using it for more purposes.

Center House — Some advocate tearing it down and using the space for something else. I think the Center House is a major attraction for most people, especially with its food court. It is also a venue for dancing, performing arts, and ethnic performances. The basement is the home of the Childrens’ Museum. I suggest retaining the building but modernizing it to make it more attractive (a lot more glass in the walls and ceilings would help a lot) and find additional uses.

Residential Uses — There has been some mention of housing within the Seattle Center. I am strongly opposed to any residential use. The Seattle Center is basically a multipurpose park, and a park should not include housing!

Parking and Transit Connections — Currently the Seattle Center has some surface parking lots, curbside parking in the neighborhood, some private pay lots, and a large multi-story parking lot across Mercer Street from the Opera House. However, there is not enough parking for when there is much activity at the Center. There are several Metro Transit bus lines serving the Center, but connections to many parts of the city are not very good.

I would suggest building the Green Line monorail north from the Key Arena station that I propose above for a new Seattle Center Monorail. The Green Line monorail would go north along Elliot Avenue West and 15th Avenue West. There are areas along this route where large parking lots or garages could be built, providing easy and fast access to Seattle Center by monorail. Click here for my ideas for the Green Line as a connection to the Seattle Center Monorail.

The Seattle World’s Fair No. 2 — The 1962 World’s Fair (Century 21 Exposition) was a great success. It resulted in many of the features still extant at the Seattle Center, pumped a lot of money into the local economy, did a lot to bring Seattle to the world’s attention, and really boosted our economy. Why can’t we do it again. Not only could we get another huge boost in our economy and fame, but it would be the catalyst to remodel the Seattle Center beyond current hopes, and pay for it. It would also provide a new incentive to build the Green Line monorail, which we need anyway, and probably fund other transit improvements.

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©2003 Robert M. Fleming Jr.

This page was last updated on 20 May 2018.

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