The vision for a new downtown stadium isn’t shared by most Spokane voters.
In an advisory vote Tuesday night, voters said by an almost 2-to-1 margin to build a new stadium on the existing site of Joe Albi Stadium – not on the north bank of the Spokane River.
Minutes after the vote was announced, Mayor David Condon said he foresees a “beautiful complex that will be a regional draw” at the Albi site. Condon had been a proponent of the downtown site for a stadium.
The tally was 65.2 percent in favor of the Albi site and 34.8 percent in favor of downtown.
“It’s unfortunate that the (downtown) stadium isn’t doing any better than it is,” said Mike Livingston, who led the efforts for a downtown stadium.
The vote isn’t binding on the Spokane Public Schools board, but it may be difficult to disregard such a one-sided vote.
With the larger bond on its way to passage Tuesday night, one thing is certain: 67-year-old Albi Stadium will be demolished.
Should the school board brush aside the advisory vote and build downtown anyway, a middle school would be built on the old stadium site, while six new playing fields would be added to the Merkel Complex.
If the new stadium is built at the Albi site, the new middle school would be constructed south of the stadium and no new playing fields would be added.
The stadium is budgeted to cost $31 million out of the $495 million bond.
The stadium issue was clouded by several questions in the run-up to the election.
The biggest was parking, though the district assured voters it would still be free for all high school events.
Another uncertainty was whether a new parking garage would be needed to offset the land occupied by a stadium. But a recent study indicated existing parking would be sufficient for all but the largest arena events.
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