Can Seattle handle six professional sports teams?

Can Seattle handle six professional sports teams?
SEATTLE -- If everything goes according to plan with the proposed SoDo arena and the return of the Sonics, Seattle could soon have six professional sports teams.

Despite being known around the country for having devoted sports fans, some are wondering whether the Emerald City has enough fans -- and money -- to support the NBA, NFL, WNBA, MLS soccer, Major League Baseball and a potential NHL franchise.

"A very, very, very good question that's unanswered," said local sportswriter Art Thiel.

Thiel is among those still unsure if the 15th largest metropolitan area in the country can support the addition of two more major sports franchises.

"For this market size, that is a lot of sports competition for the dollar in a marketplace that plays differently than any other," he said.

The other cities with six or more teams are New York, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

Seattle University professor Galen Trail said Seattle might be smaller than the others, but the average disposable income is pretty high.

"Is there interest? Absolutely," Trail said. "Is there sufficient money available in the greater Seattle area? Yes there's that, too."

What hasn't been tested in Seattle is hockey. There are also questions about KeyArena, which would host the new Sonics for at least two years.

Arena officials have been working for several months to get a jump start on some major league upgrades to everything from the scoreboard to suites, which was one of the things that alienated previous owners and the NBA.

"The building actually can do basketball," said Seattle Center director Robert Nellams. "The question is, at what level?" .

The city's Design Review Board is slated to look at plans for a new NBA/NHL arena in the SoDo neighborhood on Tuesday night.