Two MiLB ballpark upgrade stories to share today. The second: Avista Stadium upgrades will be discussed in coming months, as the Spokane Indians work to cover new MLB specs.
In general, the ballparks in High-A West–all formerly in the Short Season-A Northwest League–are seeing some pretty serious price tags relating to the new MiLB facility guidelines coinciding with the shift from a short-season league to a full-season league. In the case of Avista Stadium, ALSC Architects estimates that it will take $16 million in new spending to bring Avista Stadium up to the new MiLB facility guidelines and has also outlined an additional $7 million for upgrades on the fan side, including a new $2 million 360-degree wraparound concourse. The upgrades would be completed before the 2026 season.
The ballpark opened in 1958 and once housed Triple-A baseball. Your trivia for the day: when the PCL Los Angeles Angels departed with the arrival of the Brooklyn Dodgers, the team moved to Spokane, and this ballpark was built in four months to accommodate the new Dodgers-owned farm team.
Now, there have been some big numbers proposed for ballpark renovations and new Modesto and Eugene ballparks in High-A West, so what’s being discussed here isn’t necessarily out of line for converting an old short-season ballpark to a full-season venue. The debates in Spokane will center on the scope of the project and how the upgrades will be funded. From the Spokesman-Review:
A bond issue is the leading option. It would raise money by temporarily increasing property taxes and requires 60% voter approval to pass.
Regardless of where the money comes from, Avista Stadium needs upgrades if the Indians are going to keep playing there.
“There is no gray area,” Spokane Indians President Chris Duff said in an interview. “It’s the expectation of Major League Baseball that in order to have an affiliated minor league team, you have to hit a certain level and a certain standard. We don’t really have options.”
Under the current proposals, bond payments would be covered by increased property taxes, and that’s sure to raise the hackles of some local activists, who will have their say if Spokane County officials put the subject to voters in the August elections. On the plus for the Indians: the team has been active in community concerns and worked with local organizations on a wide range of endeavors, including a Redband Rally Campaign that landed the team a Ballpark Digest award in 2017.
Photo courtesy Spokane Indians.