A downtown stadium
At its May 5 meeting, the Spokane Public Schools Board of Directors voted 4-1 to build a new stadium downtown to replace the aging Joe Albi facility. The decision was not made lightly, and involved hundreds of emails, several public forums, a ThoughtExchange survey, and many spirited discussions with members of our community.
Board President Jerrall Haynes said the decision allows the district to innovatively support students and families that are on the margins of society far too often.
“I genuinely believe that, when all is said and done, this decision is a step in the right direction to bring Spokane to a better place, but especially Spokane Public Schools,” he said. “We’ll be able to support not just sports programs, but bolster our arts programs in Spokane Public Schools and our community for years to come.”
As it considered how to evaluate new information that recently emerged, the School Board recognized the significance and role of a 2018 advisory vote. Many things have changed since then. The new stadium proposal, which was first presented in March 2021, includes specific details and benefits to the school district that were not available and/or defined in 2018.
Here are the highlights of the new proposal:
- SPS retains 100 percent ownership rights of the stadium. Management responsibilities return to SPS at the expiration of the contract or if the contract is terminated.
- SPS has priority scheduling rights for a certain number of events and will collaborate with the Spokane Public Facilities District (PFD) on all event scheduling to avoid conflicts with nearby Spokane Arena and Podium Sportsplex events.
- SPS is guaranteed to save a minimum of $22.5 million during the term of the contract.
- The PFD will be responsible for maintenance and operations costs of the stadium, saving SPS $350,000 annually over the 50-year life of the facility.
- The PFD will allow SPS to use the Podium or Arena for high school graduation events (in case of inclement weather), spirit games and other district events.
- SPS will build the stadium using the $31 million allocated in the 2018 school bond. Any building costs beyond $31 million, including upgrades or future renovations, are not the responsibility of SPS.
- SPS receives a share (~$1 per ticket) of all revenue from non-district related events.
- During the term of the contract, approximately 2,000 free parking spots within the vicinity of the stadium will be available for all district events.
- The PFD and Civic Theatre will coordinate parking needs based on ticket sales for performance nights, ensuring the Theatre has sufficient parking in close proximity to their facility.
- The PFD, SPS, and any other entities involved in this project will partner with the Civic Theatre to solve its noise pollution concerns.
- SPS and the PFD will partner with the Civic Theatre in stadium site design and construction management planning to mitigate noise caused by the stadium. In addition, SPS and the Civic Theatre will team up to design programs that advance the arts in our schools.
- SPS and community partners, including the Downtown Spokane Partnership and local legislators, will assist in planning and promoting the Civic Theatre’s capital campaign and/or securing state and other funding to make facility improvements that will mitigate noise caused by the stadium.
- If the capital campaign and/or state funding efforts are insufficient to fully pay for noise mitigation, SPS, the PFD and community partners will partner with the Civic Theatre to find solutions.
- All reasonable efforts will be made to partner with locally owned businesses of color for contracted services related to the construction and/or operation of the stadium, in alignment with the SPS Equity Resolution.
- SPS will reinvest cost savings and revenue associated with the downtown stadium to support equity-related initiatives and to bolster our arts programs.
- Any major tenants of the stadium for non-district events must agree to conduct community service initiatives that support families living in poverty and/or communities of color. They must also ensure stadium staffing and operations are in alignment with the SPS Equity Resolution.
Support for the Downtown Stadium
- Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward
- Spokane City Council
- Greater Spokane Incorporated
- Downtown Spokane Partnership
- State Rep. Marcus Riccelli
- Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers
- WA State Dept. of Commerce Director Lisa Brown
- EWU Director of Athletics
- WSU Director of Athletics
- SPS Athletic Directors
- Civic Theatre
- Northeast principals of SPS