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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Up to $4.7 million in HVAC, roof repairs needed at Spokane County fairgrounds

Shannon Duffy, of RnR RV Center, cleans the window of a $204,000 RV on display at the 2014 Inland Northwest RV Show & Sale at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center. A new HVAC system and roof repair there could cost up to $4.7 million.  (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)
Shannon Duffy, of RnR RV Center, cleans the window of a $204,000 RV on display at the 2014 Inland Northwest RV Show & Sale at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center. A new HVAC system and roof repair there could cost up to $4.7 million. (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)

Broken air condition and heating units and leaky roofs at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center could cost millions of dollars to fix.

Fair and Expo Center Director Erin Gurtel told the Spokane County commissioners on Monday a new HVAC system and roof for one of the fairgrounds’ main event buildings could cost up to $4.7 million.

The busted HVAC units and damaged roof are the commissioners’ concern because Spokane County owns the Fair and Expo Center. The facility, which sits on the Spokane Valley side of Havana Street next to the Spokane Indians’ ballpark, hosts the annual Spokane County Interstate Fair.

Gurtel said the dying HVAC system heats and cools a massive building at the fairgrounds that’s separated into two bays. Anyone watching an Indians game can see the building’s roof beyond the left-field fence.

More than 200 events a year use the 27-year-old building. The two bays make up 35,000 square feet of the fairgrounds’ 150,000 square-foot exhibition space.

The HVAC system isn’t completely dead, but it’s on its last legs, Gurtel said. Only three of its five compressors work, and it can’t fully cool the two bays in summer.

“It’s definitely not comfortable in the buildings,” she said.

Replacing the HVAC system will cost $1.5 million. That might sound extreme, but replacing the five units will be a major operation.

Crews will have to demolish, then rebuild, the rooftop cupola that holds the units. They’ll have to use cranes to lift those units into place. The whole ordeal of finding a contractor and installing the new HVAC system will take an estimated 10 to 14 months.

Fixing the roof could be even more expensive.

Gurtel said the current roof leaks during rainstorms or when snow melts.

Fair and Expo Center staff use 5-gallon buckets to catch the falling water. Sometimes the water falls on vendors attending events at the fairgrounds.

“It does not make for a positive experience,” Gurtel said.

Initial estimates say fixing the roof will cost $3.2 million.

Gurtel said the Fair and Expo Center will hire a roofing expert to more precisely identify the cause of the leaking. It’s possible installing an entirely new roof isn’t necessary and the fix wouldn’t cost $3.2 million.

Any funding requests for HVAC and roof repair will return to the Spokane County commissioners for final approval.

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