May 21, 2014 in City

Spokane County field house proposal unlikely to include ice rink

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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An ice rink likely won’t be included in a proposed $20 million field house that Spokane County commissioners could put to voters as part of a 2015 park ballot measure.

The county is considering a proposal by the Spokane Sports Commission to underwrite a field house on the north bank of the Spokane River to draw visitors to Spokane for tournaments.

A proposed field house would make up roughly half of a $45 million ballot measure under development by the county parks department and the sports commission. Removing the ice rink would save about $4 million.

The other half of the money sought from the ballot measure would go for regional and neighborhood park improvements.

Among them would be completion of the Fish Lake Trail over active rail lines near Cheney, a new park near Spokane Valley or Liberty Lake, artificial turf on competition fields at Plantes Ferry sports complex, park additions at two county aquatic facilities and new camping sites.

If the plan is accepted by the commissioners, the earliest it would go to voters is in April 2015.

The proposal would lift the state-imposed lid on property taxes by an estimated $28 a year on a $200,000 home, over nine years. The taxes would repay a bond sale.

On Tuesday, the general manager of the Eagles Ice-A-Rena, 6321 N. Addison St., told county commissioners that a new ice rink in Spokane is unnecessary because there is enough room elsewhere to handle demand and potential growth.

Eric Bonanno said, “We don’t believe that users will be there.”

He said there are six ice rinks currently, two of which are at Eagles Ice-A-Rena. The others are at Eastern Washington University, Riverfront Park, Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena and Frontier Ice Arena in Post Falls.

The Frontier facility was designed for possible expansion to hold a second ice sheet, he said.

Last week, Eric Sawyer, president and CEO of the sports commission, said consideration of an ice rink is being dropped.

A field house would have a 200-meter indoor track for track and field events. It would also host volleyball, wrestling and even table tennis.

Under the proposal, it would be built on city-owned land east of the arena. The land would be leased by the Spokane Public Facilities District. The PFD would operate the field house. The PFD already runs the arena, Spokane Convention Center and INB Performing Arts Center.

County commissioners said they want to see a workable business plan for a field house before they will buy off on it.

In a separate measure, the Spokane City Council and mayor are considering a fall ballot issue to raise money for Riverfront Park and street improvements.


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