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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Guest Opinion

Mark Richard and Eric Sawyer: Advisory Option B is better for Spokane’s future

Joe Albi Stadium has decayed to the point of no return. The infrastructure is crumbling and it has outlived its useful life. Local high school sports doesn’t draw enough fans to justify its seating capacity and because the stadium is so run-down and isolated, attracting other programs and events is not realistic. The only affordable option is to tear it down and build a new, right-sized stadium. A stadium at each of the high schools is not a feasible alternative and would be resisted in most neighborhoods. Of real concern, the cost of the upgrades at each school would far exceed building a single new stadium.

So, where do we put this new stadium? The City of Spokane Advisory Measure asks voters to decide between two options:

If voters select Option A, they will be recommending the current Location:

    Joe Albi Stadium will be torn down.

    A new 5,000-capacity stadium will be built on the same site, isolated in northwest Spokane.

    There will be no room for the development of additional, badly needed multipurpose youth play fields.

    The stadium will be operated by the school district and used almost entirely as a high school football stadium.

    The Spokane Sports Commission estimates the economic impact at less than $900,000 per year.

    Parking for high school events will be free.

If voters select Option B, they will be recommending the central location:

    A new 5,000-capacity stadium will be built on the north bank of the Spokane River.

    The central location will be far more convenient for our high schools and the public.

    At the old Joe Albi site, room will be available for the development of six to eight new multipurpose youth play fields.

    The new stadium will be operated professionally by the Public Facilities District as a truly multipurpose facility. Further, because of its central location, more aggressive marketing and expanded programming, the stadium will have a much greater economic impact on our community.

    Stadium operations will cost substantially less due to the additional use of the facility.

    The Spokane Sports Commission estimates the economic impact at $2.2 million (conservative projection) to $6.1 million (moderate projection) per year.

    Parking for high school events will be free.

The cost of the new stadium, which is included in this year’s proposed school bond, is the same regardless of location.

If voters select Advisory Option B, a major sports, entertainment, and recreational hub will emerge on the north bank of the Spokane River. Our community will then have the ability to leverage this resource – comprised of the new stadium, arena, sportsplex and a redesigned Riverfront Park – to generate major new opportunities for tourism, job creation and commercial growth. There is neither the land nor the zoning to accommodate any similar investment near the Joe Albi site.

Sufficient parking was a realistic concern with the central location. Yet a new parking study revealed that nearly 5,000 underused parking spaces exist within walking distance to the Advisory Option B site. Recent agreements (signed Letters of Intent) have been made between the city and adjacent property owners to activate some of this additional parking during events. It’s estimated that fewer than 500 parking spaces will be lost due to the development of new facilities on the north bank, but already these agreements will allow access to 900 new parking spaces. This number is expected to grow substantially as the city establishes further agreements with additional property owners. Bottom line, there will be no need for a new taxpayer funded parking garage at this location.

To reiterate, the school district has made a commitment that parking will continue to be free during all high school events at the stadium.

A breathtaking new rendering of the stadium has been made available. We hope you will check it out on Facebook (facebook.com/unitedforspokanesfuture) or the website (www.UnitedforSpokanesfuture.com)

Advisory Option B is endorsed by SYSA, Spokane Youth Lacrosse, the Spokane Sports Commission, local high school head coaches, and many others. Cast your vote for Advisory Option B by Nov. 6 and let’s come together to start a new legacy for youth sports in our community. Joe would be proud.

Mark Richard is president of the Downtown Spokane Partnership. Eric Sawyer is president of the Spokane Sports Commission.

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