Spokane Journal of Business

Aquatics center eyed for Valley

Nonprofit hopes to open $12 million-to-$15 million, three-pool facility by 2003

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Spokane Regional Aquatics Center Inc., a new nonprofit corporation here, hopes to develop a $12 million-to-$15 million indoor swimming facility in the Spokane Valley.

Jeff Eickerman, president of Spokane Regional Aquatics, says preliminary design work on the proposed facility is under way, and the nonprofit is negotiating to buy or acquire through a donation a development site of 10 to 12 acres near the YMCA facility at Mirabeau Point. Eickerman declines to say who owns the property or whom hes negotiating with to acquire it.

Eickerman says the preliminary design work, which is being done by ALSC Architects PS, of Spokane, is expected to be completed next month, and a concerted fund-raising effort likely will start shortly thereafter. He says the Spokane County commissioners have agreed to support the project, and he expects the county to provide between $3 million and $5 million for construction of the center.

County Administrator Francine Boxer says that all three Spokane County commissioners have said they wholly support the project and are 100 percent behind it. The county hasnt determined yet how much money it will contribute to the project, but Boxer says the $3 million-to-$5 million range is realistic.

Eickerman says the balance of the money needed to build the big complex is expected to come from federal funds, foundation grants, and private donations.

Construction wouldnt start until Spokane Regional Aquatics has secured all of the money needed for the project, Eickerman says. He says the nonprofit doesnt have a schedule for completing fund raising, but hopes to do so in time to build and open the facility by 2003.

As envisioned, the aquatics center would include three pools: a 50-meter-long pool that would be used for competitive and recreational swimming; a 17-foot-deep, 25-meter-long diving tank that would double as a water-polo pool; and a shallow 25-meter, wheelchair-accessible therapy pool.

The aquatics center, as currently proposed, also would include seating for up to 4,000 spectators as well as locker rooms, concessions areas, staging areas for swimmers and vendors, and administrative offices.

Eickerman says such a facility could host local, regional, and even national aquatic competitions. National and regional events could draw a large number of competitors and spectators and have a substantial economic impact in the Spokane area, he says.

The Spokane area and Eastern Washington have no suitable facility to host major aquatics competitions now, Eickerman says.

Sports revenues are a clean and healthy revenue source for the county, Eickerman says. We think Spokane is prime for that kind of development and could become a regional sports mecca. This could be a component of that.

The aquatics center also could accommodate a variety of recreational uses, including swim lessons, water aerobics, lifeguard training, kayaking and canoeing practice, and scuba-diving training, Eickerman says.

He says a separate nonprofit corporation would manage the facility.

Linn  Parish
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Editor Linn Parish has worked for newspapers and magazines since 1996, with the bulk of that time being at the Journal. A Montana boy who has called Spokane home for some time now, Linn likes Northwest trails, Deep South foods, and lead changes in the ninth inning.

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