Spokane Public Facilities District CEO Kevin Twohig says the PFD will make a decision by month’s end about which local contractor will be selected for construction of a proposed $27 million sports field house north of the Spokane River.
Bouten Construction Co., Garco Construction Inc., and Lydig Construction Inc.—all Spokane firms—submitted proposals to the PFD on Friday, Sept. 18.
The 10-acre site where the Sportsplex is envisioned to be located, known as the North Bank site, is about a block west of the former Broadview Dairy building and a block east of the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
Twohig says a contractor needs to be hired to determine the building’s final cost and whether or not that location is the best place for the Sportsplex.
The proposals call for a 93,000-square-foot athletic complex that would house a 200-meter, six-lane indoor track, up to 10 basketball and 17 volleyball courts, locker rooms, and a flexible multisport space as well as a championship court that could be converted to ice.
How the project would be funded has yet to be determined. One option for paying for it includes a ballot measure seeking a tax increase, says Doug Chase, director of Spokane County Parks, Recreation and Golf.
Chase says a recent countywide survey shows strong support for the Sportsplex. Among 1,500 respondents, only repairs to the Centennial Trail and enhancements to Plante’s Ferry Sports Stadium, located at 12308 E. Upriver Dr., received higher priority than the Sportsplex.
“We still haven’t finalized a list of projects,” Chase says, adding that the survey was one of the most comprehensive his department has ever completed.
The 1,500 voters surveyed represent five-tenths of a percent of the 280,000 registered voters in Spokane County.
Nearly 30 projects were listed on the survey though not all of them received votes, Chase says. The Centennial Trail received 812 priority votes, followed by Plante’s Ferry at 641. The Sportsplex drew 533 priority votes, the survey says.
Local sports organizers say the Sportsplex could host wrestling matches, soccer games, and indoor track meets.
Eric Sawyer, president and CEO of the Spokane Sports Commission, asserts that Spokane desperately needs the Sportsplex.
“Club sports are still fairly new to Spokane, like club volleyball and AAU basketball for example. Youth sports were once primarily handled by the schools and Spokane Youth Sports Association,” Sawyer says. “But club sports have exploded. Quite honestly, I think the Sportsplex is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re only talking about indoor sports with this facility.”
Sawyer says a Sportsplex makes Spokane an even stronger draw for more tournaments and events, adding an economic boost to tourism while also providing added game sites and practice facilities for local athletes.
The sports commission cites a Gonzaga University study that estimates the new facility would generate an additional $33 million annually in direct tourism spending here.
Sawyer says the Sportsplex would be a tourism boost. “Of the four big tourism categories, convention, leisure, corporate, and sports, sports was the only travel segment across the country that experienced increased revenue during the recession,” Sawyer says.
“In the last three years, sports-related tourism has increased 20 percent. Mom and dad may cancel Disneyland, but they’ll make sure the kids get to the AAU tournaments,” Sawyer says.
The PFD, parks department and sports commission are awaiting the final draft of a feasibility study being done by Sports Facilities Advisory of Clearwater, Fla., on how Spokane can most effectively utilize the Sportsplex. The draft report is due Oct. 8, Sawyer says.
The city of Spokane, City Parks, and PFD are expected to develop, and construct the facility, according to an agreement reached in late March. The PFD would be responsible for managing the design, permitting, and construction at the site as well as for maintenance and operation at the site.
Twohig says the PFD believes the Sportsplex would boost tourism and serve as a “great new venue” for area youth athletes.
The Sportsplex would be different from the Spokane Area, which was designed for a fan experience, Twohig says.
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