The Spokane Park Board plans to spend up to $650,000 for property near the Spokane Arena to support a $42 million indoor prep sports facility long in development.
Construction of the Sportsplex, as it has been dubbed by the Spokane Sports Commission and Spokane Public Facilities District, is scheduled to begin early next year on the north bank of the Spokane River.
The facilities district is negotiating with city officials to lease about an acre of city park land between Dean and Cataldo avenues to the district to use for the Sportsplex. The land includes the former Carnation Dairy garage that the parks system uses for storage.
The Sportsplex would include a 200-meter banked indoor track, basketball courts and an NHL-sized ice rink for hockey and other sports.
The Sportsplex project has proceeded independently of the push for an outdoor stadium for high school sports to be built downtown, a proposed location that nearly 65 percent of city voters shot down on this month’s ballot in a nonbinding advisory vote.
The park board voted unanimously earlier this month to provide up to $650,000 to the facilities district to help the district buy private property co-owned by Amanda Hansen adjacent to the Carnation Dairy garage and tear down the building and the Carnation garage. That property is at the heart of a lawsuit against the city.
Sportsplex plans submitted to a state committee tasked with approving large-scale construction projects include a rendering that uses Hansen property. She has sued the city, alleging the condition of the park property next to her former dance studio business forced her out of the building.
Hansen declined to comment on any potential sale in an email exchange last week.
The Sportsplex will be funded in large part by bonds Spokane County agreed to sell earlier this year totaling $25 million. The city has dedicated $5 million in real estate tax income to the project, and the Public Facilities District will spend $11 million of reserve money. Officials are expected to request additional funding from the state Legislature, said Stephanie Curran, chief executive officer of the facilities district.
Officials have said they can configure the complex around Hansen’s property on “the bluff,” as it’s known, a basalt rock face that is visible walking north out of Riverfront Park. But the ideal location for the facility would include the property.
“We are still in the design phase,” Curran said. “We do know that this is the best location for the Sportsplex.”
The contribution from the city’s Parks Department will come from several sources: nearly $490,000 from money set aside for capital improvements in the park as well money transferred to the parks from Utilities to cover work on the Howard Street bridge, and $160,000 set aside in reserves to cover soil cleanup on the north bank of Riverfront Park.
The $650,000 figure is less than what the city would expect to pay to demolish the Carnation garage alone to make way for the Sportsplex, said Rick Romero, the city’s former utilities director who’s been guiding discussions among City Hall, the Public Facilities District, Spokane County and the Spokane Sports Commission in support of the Sportsplex project.
“We were going to have to pay something in this neighborhood anyway, to get rid of this building,” Chris Wright, who leads the board’s finance committee, said of the Carnation garage.
The firms Lydig Construction and Integrus are handling the preliminary phases of design and construction for the Sportsplex, which analysts projected in 2015 could generate up to $24 million in annual economic activity for the region by its fifth year of operation.
The building is expected to be complete by September 2020.
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