The optimistic Seattle ownership group led by Chris Hansen has released some mock-ups of what the interior of a new arena might look like, and huh—it looks a lot more crowded than the last time the Sonics played in Seattle.
Remember, Kings-to-Seattle isn't a done deal. The NBA will consider a Sacramento group's counter-offer against that Hansen, who signed a $341 million agreement to purchase the team from the Maloofs. (Much of the Sacramento money would come from Ron Burkle, who also had interest in purchasing AEG before it was pulled off the block earlier today). Last we heard, David Stern said the Sacramento bid was "not quite there," and "unless it increases, it doesn't get to the state of consideration." The Board of Governors will vote next month on which offer to accept.
The arena still has its own legislative hurdles, but is basically a given if Hansen buys the Kings. So while these are "preliminary designs," they're worth poking into. See those yellow decks atop the seating area?
The upper seating bowl is dramatically shortened and the top rows are replaced with three stacked balconies (what we have dubbed the “Sonic Rings”) that slant inward toward center court as they stack. We believe these balcony levels provide several key advantages versus traditional upper bowl seating including:
- Improved Viewing Angles: The creation of the Sonic Rings and resulting ability to significantly increase steepness of the lower bowl, results in MARKEDLY improved sight lines for all seating categories
- Significant Flex Capacity: In addition to seating for over 2,000 patrons, the design of the Sonic Rings allows for significant incremental standing room capacity so we can “flex up” for the big game or “flex down” for more intimate events
The concept is reminiscent of the "sky bridges"planned for the Madison Square Garden renovation, which still seem like a logistical and litigious nightmare. But if the "Sonics Rings" come to pass, it sounds like the Sonics will be able to cram an extra 2,000 paying customers in for big games. This might be the new revolution in stadium planning: dynamic capacity, to go along with dynamic pricing.
The Seattle Arena would try something new with luxury suites, as well. There would be a row of boxes 10 rows back from the court, and even closer to the rink (here are some hockey mock-ups) . The envisioned view from one of the "pocket suites":
There would also be more traditional suites on the loge level.
It's hard to get excited about any sort of venue that's not a baseball stadium, because they all look pretty much the same on the inside. Still: the NBA really has missed arenas full of green and yellow.