A proposal to place a stadium downtown will be front and center next week in a meeting of the Spokane Public Schools board of directors.
The final decision over the stadium rests with the school district, which owns Joe Albi Stadium in northwest Spokane, but won’t be happening yet.
During a special meeting Wednesday night, the board agreed to place an item on the March 10 agenda that gives downtown backers a chance to make their case to build a new stadium there instead of at the current Albi site. No action is expected at that time.
Given the choice in an advisory vote in 2018, voters strongly preferred the Albi site.
Reading a statement, Board President Jerrall Haynes said Wednesday that “it has consistently been stated that our plan is to continue on schedule (at the Albi site), but that any group is welcome to share ideas about the concept of a downtown stadium, if new ideas or information become available.”
“Based on my understanding, from the formal request and from media reports, it appears that new details do exist,” Haynes said.
Other board members offered no comments.
Earlier in the day, the Spokane Public Facilities District, which would manage the downtown stadium, gave conditional approval to the project.
On social media, many users urged the school district to reject the proposal, which asks the district to direct funds to a downtown stadium and build recreational fields instead at the Albi site.
During a presentation on Tuesday, Mark Richard, President of Downtown Spokane Partnership, cited studies that predict the new stadium would help generate $11.4 million annually in economic impact and help downtown recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are optimistic that the school board will find this compelling as well,” said Richard, who also said that the district would save about $350,000 annually in facilities costs.
Most critics cited the advisory vote, while others contended that funds should come from the private sector.
“Spokane Schools would be fools to agree to this. It would tarnish their reputation with the voters and undermine future levies,” posted Larry Cebula of Spokane.
Susan Smith Lindsey of Spokane said: “Voters already said no to a downtown stadium. The school board has other priorities at this time and no time to waste on something the voters already turned down.”
However, Jessica Clayton of Spokane pointed out that the funds are already allocated, saying, “Utilizing the funds to construct a stadium downtown instead would add more economic impact to the downtown region and generate revenue for our economy.”
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