International Longshore and Warehouse Union files lawsuit against SODO arena

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) local 19, filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court today challenging the decision of the City of Seattle and King County to move forward with an agreement to build a sports arena in Seattle’s industrial SODO district.

Union leaders and their legal counsel previously announced the lawsuit at a press conference on October 15.  The lawsuit was filed today because, as expected, on October 16 Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, and King County Executive Dow Constantine signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) proposing the Arena be built in SoDO.

The lawsuit, which is available for downloading at, alleges that Seattle and King County violated the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).

While it purports in several sentences to require future SEPA review and reserves final siting of the Arena by the Councils in the future, virtually all of the 38 page-long MOU consists of planning and financial terms that only apply to the SODO site.  These provisions include identifying a specific location for the arena in SoDo just south of Safeco Field, the commencement of a process for the city and county to co-design the arena on this site, and extensive financial terms that apply only to the SoDo site.  

“These provisions will create irreversible political momentum in favor of siting the proposed new arena on the SoDo site in the SEPA review process, making the SEPA alternatives and impacts review process a sham,” said Cameron Williams President of ILWU #19. “I repeat, ILWU is not against a new arena or bringing back the NBA to the Seattle area but we are not going to sit idly by while this arena and entertainment district, along with the traffic already generated by Safeco Field and Century Link Field, destroy the great working class jobs provided by our port and industrial area.”

The lawsuit asks the court to invalidate the MOU and to require the City and County to go back to the drawing board and work on an MOU and future SEPA process that does not make the Arena site in SODO a foregone conclusion.

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