Spokane School Board expected to decide on downtown stadium Wednesday

SPOKANE, Wash. — After months of public meetings, outreach and debate, the Spokane Public Schools Board of Directors is expected to decide Wednesday night if it will move forward with a plan to build a new stadium in downtown Spokane.

Funding for a facility to replace 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.

The school district was going ahead with plans for a stadium at the Albi site, which will also include a new middle school, and demolition on the old stadium was set to begin this spring. Then, the Downtown Spokane Partnership resurfaced a plan to build the stadium downtown on Boone Avenue, right next to the Spokane Arena.

Under that plan, the school district would fund the construction of the stadium, but the Public Facilities District would operate it. The district estimates it would save them $350,000 annually in operating and maintenance costs, or $17.5 million over the expected 50-year life of the stadium.

A professional soccer team has expressed interest in playing in Spokane, but only at the downtown site.

The plan has received support from local elected leaders, state and federal lawmakers and the athletic directors from each of the Spokane high schools. Principals of all the schools in northeast Spokane sent a joint letter, saying the downtown location would be easier for students to access, giving them more opportunities to participate in activities.

PAST COVERAGE: A new stadium may be coming to downtown Spokane

While most of the public support at meetings and in surveys has favored the downtown option, many people raised concerns about access, parking and the impact on the nearby Civic Theater.

In late April, the school board created a list of proposed terms that it wanted the Public Facilities District to agree to. It addressed everything from equity practices to cooperation with the Civic. Last week, the PFD agreed to the terms proposed.

“Proposed action” on the plan is on the school board agenda for Wednesday night.

For background info on the plan and the district’s FAQ page, visit this page.

Editor’s note:  An earlier version of this article mistakenly referred to the district’s estimated savings in operating and maintenance cost with the downtown stadium plan as $17.5 million annually rather than $17.5 million over an expected 50-year life of the stadium.