The Spokane Public Schools Board voted 4-1 to start negotiations with the entity that owns the Spokane Arena on parameters for building an outdoor stadium downtown.
During their Wednesday meeting, every school board member, except Nikki Lockwood, voted to begin discussions with the Spokane Public Facilities District, which owns the Spokane Arena and several other venues.
School Board President Jerrall Haynes said when he, and the community voted against a downtown stadium in 2018, it was based on issues that the district and P-F-D may be able to resolve now.
“The last time this came to the board in 2018, I made the best decision that I thought I could based on the information that was available, and I voted no. I stand by that decision and I will always stand by that decision. In 2021, in this exact moment in time, my commitment as a leader is to do the exact same thing, which is to make the best decision based on all the data and all the facts we have available to us. I believe the concept of a downtown stadium has merit and offers the potential for significant benefits to equitable access for students and fiscal stewardship of district finances.”
The Stadium would replace Joe Albi, which is located in Northwest Spokane. The Public Facilities District would pay for maintenance and operations at the facility.
The board agreed to negotiate with the PFD on a downtown stadium if it includes several parameters: The School District owns the building, there is sufficient parking for school district families and the PFD must come up with a solution to noise problems a stadium could cause for its neighbor, the Spokane Civic Theatre.
The negotiated agreement must also include several equity measures, the school district has priority over any future tenants of the stadium, and cost savings, and a share of revenue, must go to the district. Those revenues would be re-invested into equity programs, or the arts.
The school board set a deadline of May 5 to negotiate a deal for a downtown stadium.
The proposed stadium has the support of the business community, Spokane’s mayor and several other elected officials. It would seat 5,000 and a professional soccer league has offered $2 million to the project if it’s moved downtown.