A recent Spokane Public Schools survey found overwhelming local support for the proposed downtown stadium project / Image courtesy Downtown Spokane Partnership
Last week, United Soccer League Chief Operating Officer Justin Papadakis joined local NBC affiliate KHQ-TV in Spokane to discuss the ongoing efforts to bring a downtown stadium to the city in eastern Washington.
“Over the past year, we’ve been working hard on this project,” Papadakis told reporter, Joe McHale. “Even at the height of this pandemic, we would have calls with stakeholders from around Spokane. There would be 50 or 60 people on those calls, and it really spoke to the passion that business leaders, civic leaders, and sports leaders have for their city in Spokane.
“Spokane has been a city that has really shown the interest and desire from such a wide range of the community to bring professional soccer to their market, drive economic impact, and really create an opportunity to, at a family-friendly price, see top quality entertainment on a week-in, week-out basis.”
If approved, the stadium would be home to a new USL League One club and additionally would be utilized year-round by Spokane Public Schools for high school sports and other events. The USL has worked closely with SPS over the last year to determine the community and economic impact of the project.
“The Spokane Public Schools have been very diligent in this process. The school district is run by exceptional leaders, and they asked us to really look at addressing many issues, whether it’s parking, the cost, dates, and use of the facility,” said Papadakis. “What we came back with is a very detailed report put together over a year.
“On the cost side, it would save $17.5 million that the school district could use for teachers, books, and most importantly students. On the dates side, the school district would have priority dates for high school football games, graduations and other events. On the parking side, it’s been a really important issue that we spent a lot of time on. We’ll have over 1,300 spaces and free parking for all SPS events.”
The stadium will serve as an entertainment and economic hub in downtown Spokane. A report produced by the Downtown Spokane Partnership indicated the stadium will generate an annual $11.4 million economic impact for the area, benefitting local restaurants, bars, and hotels, while creating new job opportunities. Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward voiced her support for the stadium project as well, saying the downtown location, "...makes the most community, access, and financial sense."
“What a game day would look like is a downtown environment where we have thousands of people coming downtown, going out to bars and restaurants before the game, and going to watch a match,” said Papadakis. “That is great for the community, that’s economic impact and jobs. Coming out of the COVID pandemic, we need to really focus on that with this downtown stadium.”
A survey conducted on the Spokane Schools website in early April received nearly 8,000 responses, and revealed widespread community support for the stadium project. Following the survey, as well as two public meetings held to ask for citizens’ input, the school board is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, May 5, and could make a decision on the stadium project at that meeting.
“From every single point, I think the constituents in Spokane have overwhelming support for a downtown stadium, and the poll reflected this,” said Papadakis. “I really appreciate the wide-ranging involvement from so many people in Spokane for this effort for a downtown stadium.
“[Spokane Public Schools] approached this in the right way, they’ve been very diligent. The next major step is the vote. We’re really excited about it. I can’t wait to come for the opening day of a downtown stadium in Spokane.”
For more information on the proposed stadium project in downtown Spokane, visit www.spokaneschools.org/stadium.