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The proposed exterior of Seattle’s new arena looks lik a “SuperSonic” jet turbine. Photo via

Aerospace fans are going to like the proposed designs for the new $500 million SoDo sports arena.

The Seattle investment group led by Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer just released some preliminary designs for the new arena. The exterior design, pictured above, is supposed to look like a “SuperSonic” jet turbine (Seattle’s NBA team name is the SuperSonics). 

Pretty badass, no?

The interior proposals are also very unique and, according to the group, are inspired by the “unique sports culture of the Seattle market.” This is the first time we’ve seen any interior designs.

Check out the proposed “Sonic Rings” in the upper level. Photo via

Unlike your typical sports arena, the proposed 2,000-seat upper seating level is shortened and instead replaced by three stacked balconies that slant inward as they go higher. The group has dubbed these the “Sonic Rings.” Advantages, they say, include improved viewing angles, increased energy and a more sustainable building due to the reduced roof space.

The design of the Sonic Rings also allow for “significant incremental standing room capacity.”

Other interesting aspects of the interior design include the placement of premium suites. There’s lower level suites that are located just ten rows off the floor, as well as an upper suite level.

Photo via

The group says that the upper suite level “represents both an evolution in Arena design and a recognition of the unique attributes of the Seattle Business Community”:

Instead of creating a level of “hermetically sealed” suites with a dedicated corridor that speaks to status superiority and isolation, we have instead opted for a flexible “Loge Suite” design that will allow us to offer varying suite layouts to groups and businesses of all sizes. The suite layouts provide a much more social, inclusive and fun atmosphere around shared bars and amenities with a balcony that overlooks the main club.

Again, the major point here is that our seating bowl design will maximize the intensity of the game experience and minimize the stratification of the different tiers of tickets. Both of these design goals we believe will strongly appeal to the Seattle sports community.

The group will announce sustainable building features in the “coming months,” that include energy and water-saving elements. 

Photo via
A view from the “Sonic Rings.” Photo via

The arena project received preliminary approval last Tuesday from the Seattle Downtown Design Review Board and is now on the permitting stage. The group can now apply for a master-use permit, which could be issued in November. The two-year construction project is set to begin May 2014.

But before that happens, the NBA needs to return to Seattle.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer earlier this year. (Microsoft photo)
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer earlier this year. (Microsoft photo)

Hansen and Ballmer are leading a Seattle group that reached an agreement with the Maloof family in January to buy 65 percent of the Sacramento Kings for a reported $341 million. The group has already put down a $30 million non-refundable deposit and has requested for the team to play at KeyArena for two seasons before moving into the new SoDo arena in 2015.

Earlier this week, Hansen made his first public comments in two months when he debuted a priority wait-list for future Sonics tickets, even though Seattle has yet to secure a team. It seemed like a bit of a PR stunt as just two weeks ago Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson named two equity investors as part of the fight to keep the Sacramento Kings in town and convince the NBA to reject the Seattle deal.

NBA officials are expected to vote on the sale at its annual meeting in New York April 18-19. Hansen and Ballmer need a three-quarters supermajority approval from the board.

In terms of Ballmer’s involvement with all this, reports came out in June that the Microsoft CEO was part of the investment group with Hansen. It’s not surprising: Ballmer was a regular at Sonics games before the team departed for Oklahoma City in 2008 and also was part of another investment group that tried to keep the team here. Seattle has been without a team since then.

Read more about the arena here.

UPDATE, 1:30 P.M. Thursday: Hansen just penned a post and provided two pictures of what the arena would look like for a hockey game. Check them out here.


Previously on GeekWire: Microsoft to Sacramento: Don’t blame us for taking your NBA team

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