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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Build a stadium downtown or NW Spokane? 15 answers to big questions facing Spokane School Board

This is one of the tunnels that football fans use to enter Joe Albi Stadium for games.  (JESSE TINSLEY)

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the proposed downtown sports stadium.

Wasn’t this issue settled in 2018, when the public voted to build a new stadium at the Albi site? No. The stadium vote was an advisory measure. It’s nonbinding and the Spokane Public Schools board retains the authority to abandon the Albi stadium plan and build downtown.

What is the district’s current plan for a stadium? The district plans to raze Albi Stadium this year and build a 5,000-seat replacement on the same site by the fall of 2022.

Why is Spokane Public Schools tearing down Joe Albi Stadium? The stadium is 70 years old and needs major repairs.

How much would the proposed downtown stadium cost? The school board has $31 million to spend, the same as the Albi option. Regardless of the site, funds have already been approved by voters through a capital bond passed in 2018.

How much will annual maintenance cost Spokane Public Schools if the stadium is built at the Albi site? About $350,000 per year.

And downtown? The proposal by downtown backers claim $0, because the Spokane Public Facilities District would assume all maintenance and operating costs. However, the downtown stadium proposal anticipates taxpayer money is needed, though probably less because the PFD already maintains the neighboring Arena and the new Podium. It is also anticipated that the PFD would earn money through sponsorships.

What would happen to the Albi site should the school district opt to build a new stadium downtown? That would be up to the district. However, it has been proposed that the site be converted to playing fields for soccer, lacrosse and other sports.

Have there been any studies completed to show the impact of the stadium at either site? In summer 2018, the district commissioned a traffic analysis which concluded that the street infrastructure was sufficient to handle traffic generated by events occurring at all three facilities (Arena, Podium, and stadium) simultaneously.

Where would people park for a downtown stadium? The PFD would provide 500 free parking spaces for use by school constituents for football, and a mutually agreeable number of complimentary parking spaces for other school events.

What is this minor league soccer team that has expressed interest in a downtown stadium? The United Soccer League, founded in 2017, has expressed an interest in expanding to Spokane, but only if a stadium is located downtown.

How much would this private business pay toward building a new downtown stadium? Under the proposal made public last week, the USL would pay $2 million for improvements.

What kind of attendance do minor league soccer teams draw in this league and what other cities are part of this league? According to a USL analysis of the Spokane market, it would draw at least 4,000 fans per match.

If there are scheduling conflicts between Spokane Public School events and minor league soccer games or other PFD events, who would get priority? According to the proposal from the Downtown Spokane Partnership, the district will have first priority to schedule 20 football events, 20 fall soccer events and certain miscellaneous events at the stadium Wednesday through Sunday on alternating weeks during the months of September, October, November and December.

The USL team will have first priority from January through August.

How often do teams in this league play? In USL League 1, teams play 20 to 25 home matches per season.

If this team were unsuccessful, how would the PFD make up for whatever costs were supposed to be covered by the soccer organization? According to the proposal, the USL would front the $2 million cost of stadium improvements. In the event that the agreement does not renew at any time, or should the USL team disband, ownership and operation of the Stadium would revert to Spokane Public Schools.