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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  High school sports

Grip on Sports: It wasn’t time then, it is now

Joe Albi Stadium, in northeast Spokane, is the weekly site of high school football games of the Greater Spokane League, shown  Sept. 8, 2017. Spokane Public Schools is considering a plan to downsize the stadium or convert it into soccer fields, and build a new stadium downtown. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Joe Albi Stadium, in northeast Spokane, is the weekly site of high school football games of the Greater Spokane League, shown Sept. 8, 2017. Spokane Public Schools is considering a plan to downsize the stadium or convert it into soccer fields, and build a new stadium downtown. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Talk about a blast from the past. Joe Albi Stadium is in the news again. And the idea is to replace it. It’s an idea whose time has come. Read on.

••••••••••

• A dozen years ago, the City of Spokane decided to use Albi Stadium as a political football. It was falling apart, not due to any fault of its own, but due to neglect. It wasn’t worth keeping. The land, a sizable chunk on the North Side, would be better served in another capacity.

The City had a plan. Actually, Mayor Jim West had a plan. He wanted to build a new sewage-treatment plant where Playfair race track once stood. He knew he needed other items to excite the public into spending its tax money in an area long neglected. So he came up with an idea of closing Albi and building a smaller stadium near the proposed sewage plant.

What a bunch of, well, because someone young might be reading this, we will type “hooey” and leave it at that.

We said as much at the time. In a column, a younger Vince Grippi called for Albi Stadium to remain and for the city to invest in it. Half of that column was heeded. The investment part wasn’t.

Which brings us to today.

Another plan has been floated. It would also include laying Joe Albi to rest. And building a smaller stadium in a different spot. Sound familiar?

This plan is different. Better. And there is no sewage-treatment plant within olfactory range. The new stadium would be built downtown, just north of the river and east of the Arena. It’s a central location for all of Spokane’s five high schools.

The Mead schools, a tenant at Albi for seemingly forever, are moving forward with a stadium as well, which would serve those two high schools. Gonzaga Prep moved out years ago. It’s the right time for a change.

The newest leader of the Spokesman’s Prep gang, Dave Nichols, wrote about the newest plan in today’s paper. He’s wholeheartedly behind the idea.

Joe Albi has deteriorated markedly since West’s plan was floated. Maybe that was part of the City’s scheme. Let the place just fall down and more people will be inclined to support a new place. Who knows? It’s politics, after all.

But no matter. There has to be a change made. The old place can’t continue the way it is – or will be in another dozen years.

There was a chance to save it, to give it the Davenport treatment. Once. That chance is gone. It is time to move forward, to build a new stadium that will become part of Spokane’s history. This opportunity can’t be missed.

•••

WSU: The changing of the guard just isn’t stopping in Pullman. Mike Marlow, Bill Moos’ right-hand guy, is the latest to step out the door. He left his alma mater yesterday, taking over at Northern Arizona after not being seriously considered as Moos’ replacement. Theo Lawson has the story. … Theo also has a basketball interview and a story on another All-American honor for Hercules Mata’afa. … Whoever the next athletic director is, they won’t have to worry about their volleyball coach. … Marlow’s departure was also covered in the Times and in the Flagstaff newspaper.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, there was just one basketball game last night, with Oregon winning the battle with visiting Portland State. … There was other basketball news, though, including a power ranking and a preview of the big game in Utah. … Arizona State is on a roll, so is Arizona but not so much in Colorado. … In football news, USC is headed back to AT&T Stadium, where it didn’t fare all that well last time. … Arizona State may lose a defensive lineman to the NFL. … Oregon’s Justin Herbert is on everybody’s radar for next season. … A former Washington receiver is in a bad way.

Gonzaga: It’s been a long slog through the nonconference schedule for the Zags. Jim Meehan has been along for every step of the way and he probably agrees with Mark Few’s sentiment stated in this story.

Preps: Besides Nichols’ column on Albi, there is more from last night’s prep action. … We can offer roundups from wrestling and gymnastics. There is also Dave’s preview of GSL wrestling and the news of a new radio home for the league.

Hoopfest: Matt Santangelo is no longer doing Gonzaga radio. He is using that time for family and to hone his focus on Hoopfest and its reorganization and expansion. Whitney Ogden has more in this piece

Chiefs: Ty Smith has been named to a prestigious all-star game.

Seahawks: This is the most important regular season game of the Russell Wilson era. … If Bobby Wagner doesn’t play, a guy with a beard will be in the spotlight for Seahawks’ defense. … Seattle has mined local talent for practice squad players before. … The offensive line is gelling. … Doug Baldwin would like to see the ball more early in games. … Blair Walsh is still the Hawks’ kicker.

Mariners: Jerry Dipoto showed he wasn’t kidding when he said earlier this week he was concentrating on pitching. The M’s traded for a reliever and then signed one on the free agent market. All on Wednesday. … Nelson Cruz is leading the offseason workouts.

Sounders: Portland traded away its marquee player, Darlington Nagbe, yesterday.

•••       

• If the plan really was let Albi get so bad it had to be replaced, it worked. Now the replacement plan has to work. It’s getting to the point, quickly, when there will be no alternative. Until later … 

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