Our Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena has been home to a Memorial Cup, the U.S. Figure Skating Championships (twice), the NCAA Basketball tournament (men’s and women’s, multiple times), monster truck shows, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Michael Buble, Elton John, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood and many more people and productions in addition to its main tenants, hockey’s Spokane Chiefs and arena football’s Spokane Shock.
The Spokane Convention Center has also been an attractive setting for conventions and events since its expansion in 2006. It constructed a temporary rink for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships the first time we set an attendance record in 2007.
Both are staples in our community and have attracted large events and conventions and big-name stars. The buildings need to be expanded (the Arena) and completed (the Convention Center). Measure 1 on the April 17 ballot would allow that to happen. Here’s why we support Measure 1:
First things first: Measure 1 is not a new tax, as the Jan. 22 editorial in The Spokesman-Review said. Currently, the Public Facilities District (which owns the Arena and Convention Center) receives one-tenth of one percent of the sales tax and a two percent room tax on hotel rooms in the county. These current taxes will extend through 2043, if Measure 1 passes. That’s an additional ten years added to the current expiration year.
So what does expansion and completion mean? The Arena’s current seating capacity puts it at risk for losing out on future NCAA Tournament bids. The NCAA’s minimum seating requirements have slowly crept up in recent years. This column from The Spokesman-Review in March of 2010 when Spokane last hosted the men’s NCAA Tournament offers a glimpse into the mind of the NCAA:
“When the Arena and its collegiate partner, Washington State University, offered its services to host the first and second rounds again in the 2011-13 cycle, the NCAA said thanks, but no – and gently advised that a few more seats would have to be added to the Arena configuration to make it happen in the future.
At the moment, it’s nothing drastic.
‘It’s always been that 12,000 is the minimum number,’ said (former) WSU associate athletics director John David Wicker. ‘What changed, basically, is one word. It went from 12,000 capacity to 12,000 sellable capacity.’
The Arena is a 12,000-seat joint, but after accommodations are made for the CBS cameras, bands, cheerleaders, the press and other non-playing participants, only 11,500 or so seats can be sold.”
The Convention Center expanded in 2006, but construction costs forced the project to slim down. The additional 90,000 square feet of space needed for completion would allow Spokane to attract larger conventions, which would bring more people spending money in our great city.
When NCAA Tournaments, figure skating competitions, concerts, conventions and other events come to these buildings, they attract visitors. These visitors pay for hotel rooms, food, souvenirs, gas and more. This is investment being imported into our city and accounts for thousands of current jobs for residents.
Let’s pretend a convention comes to Spokane’s completed Convention Center. In addition to the hotel rooms and food, this group might need promotional posters printed. A local printer could do that job. This group might also need some entertainment to fill some downtime. A trip to any of our area movie theaters would fill that void.
Needless to say, expanding the Arena and completing the Convention Center will help bring even more visitors and investment to our region – not to mention the estimated 800 new jobs during construction.
Learn more at www.citizensforjobsnow.com. And vote yes!