Spokane Public Schools is moving quickly to gain more input from citizens as it reconsiders the question of where to build a new sports stadium.
Next week, the district will hold two public hearings to gauge sentiment on the issue. On Friday, it launched a ThoughtExchange survey, a tool employed for previous issues.
On Wednesday night, the district’s board of directors heard details of the plan from representatives of the Downtown Spokane Partnership and the United Soccer League.
Backers claim the idea would generate millions of dollars for the local economy and boost the downtown.
In an advisory vote held in the fall of 2018, however, most voters preferred that the district build a new 5,000-seat stadium at the current Albi Stadium site in Northwest Spokane.
Following the meeting, the board opted to seek more input from the public.
“Honestly, we just want to see what the public thinks of the new proposal,” board President Jerrall Haynes said Friday.
Associate Superintendent Mark Anderson said the survey and forums will “encourage a high level of participation … to ensure patrons are aware of this opportunity to give their opinion on the new details of the downtown stadium concept.”
The school district’s outreach began Friday with the launch of the ThoughtExchange survey, which was designed to go beyond simple answers.
“We prompt them, and then ask ‘If this is your decision, then why?’ ” Haynes said.
A link to the ThoughtExchange survey can be found on the district’s website.
In addition, the district will hold two public hearings, on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both will begin at 6:30 p.m. and last “as long as we have public comment,” Haynes said.
The public hearings will be held via the Zoom webinar format, similar to regular board meetings, at which patrons can register to provide testimony or comment.
The district has proceeded since 2018 with the Albi location and has scheduled bids for the project to go out later this spring.
Haynes said the board won’t make a hasty decision and hasn’t set a deadline to choose.
“We as a board want to be very thoughtful on this issue,” he said. “Putting a timeline on it, I don’t think that would be fair.”
Haynes didn’t rule out the possibility of another advisory vote. That could not take place before August, would cost an additional $100,000 and set back the construction schedule almost a year.
“We’re going to be exploring the pros and cons of an advisory vote,” Haynes said. “Everything is on the table.”
Also on Friday, the district sent a letter to families, explaining the issue and inviting them to take part.
It read in part: “Provided the information and details are significantly different compared to previous downtown stadium options and potentially beneficial to the district, the SPS School Board is requesting public input on the new downtown stadium proposal.”
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