Despite being shaken by an early morning bombing at City Hall, the Spokane City Council was back in business Monday night, unanimously approving a plan to replace Albi Stadium’s damaged turf.
The council’s OK means the city will call for bids on an estimated $1.9 million stadium upgrade that features new artificial turf and a wider playing surface for soccer.
Spokane sports mogul Bobby Brett has pledged the first $100,000 for the project. The city and school districts each have committed $400,000.
It’s uncertain how the balance would be paid, but the city’s finance committee is studying options, including council-approved bonds.
If improvements at Albi move ahead as planned, Brett vows to seek private dollars to develop all 90 acres of the stadium grounds. Ultimately, he envisions an indoor soccer field and ice rink, as well as softball fields.
Albi Stadium opened in 1950 for football and motor sports. Its use dropped to 27 days last year, primarily for high school football. Today, the city spends $40,000 to $50,000 a year to subsidize the stadium.
Last season, doctors began reporting more knee and shoulder injuries as a result of the deteriorating turf.
“We’re in a position where we have no choice but to spend money to keep youth from being injured,” said Councilman Chris Anderson. The improvements “can turn what’s a cash drain into a positive cash flow.”
In spite of the day’s exhausting events, council members chose to go ahead with Monday’s meeting. They hoped to send a message to the bombers: The city and its residents won’t be intimidated.
“We will continue again with business as normal, and hopefully get this matter behind us,” said Mayor Jack Geraghty.
Things weren’t quite back to normal Monday night.
Two uniformed police officers stood at the entrance to City Hall, inspecting people’s bags and packages as they entered. At least four more officers were positioned outside council chambers, watching the comings and goings.