Spokane Public Schools Board approves downtown stadium proposal

Proposed Downtown Stadium Graphic

SPOKANE, Wash. — After months of public meetings, outreach and debate, the Spokane Public Schools Board of Directors voted to move forward with the proposed downtown stadium on Wednesday night.

The proposal was not without its controversies — from traffic and noise concerns to access and parking, and even the impact on the nearby Civic Theatre. The school board previously negotiated with the Downtown Spokane Partnership to address those issues. The plan received support from local elected leaders, state and federal lawmakers and athletic directors from each of the Spokane high schools.

Funding for replacing Joe Albi Stadium was approved by voters in 2018. At the time, the city and school board asked for an advisory vote on where to build the stadium: downtown or the current Joe Albi site in northwest Spokane. Voters chose the Albi site, but the vote was not binding.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Spokane School Board expected to decide on downtown stadium Wednesday

During the meeting, board members discussed their negotiated terms with DSP to decide if the stadium should be downtown or at Joe Albi. Board member Mike Wiser asked how long the contract would be, and Dr. Anderson said they are assuming it would be a 50-year term with PFD, the life of the facility.

If the Public Facilities District (PFD) were to get out of the contract, Dr. Adam Swinyard said they would consult with legal counsel and it would be part of the contract negotiations under terminations.

In terms of Joe Albi, with the downtown stadium approved, Anderson said they have been talking with Parks & Rec about fields at the site. In the middle school budget, there is money to take down the stadium either way. Groundbreaking on the downtown site depends on how quickly they can put together construction documents.

Reasons for accepting the proposal included costs — Swinyard noted spirit games and graduation ceremonies cost money, as it requires the school district to rent out spaces like the Spokane Arena and Convention Center. He said having the stadium would save them money. Members said they could also ensure families have free priority parking for events.