Keeping the Spokane Indians (High-A; Northwest League) in affiliated baseball will now cost an estimated $22 million, as the team is seeking county funding and community resources to fund MLB-mandated Avista Stadium upgrades.
The Indians pitched Spokane County on funding $11 million for Avista Stadium upgrades. This wasn’t a surprise: In February the team warned the price tag for upgrades could be as high as $23 million–$16 million for the back-end player upgrades and $7 million for fan-side updates.
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.) Basically, the Indians are faced with the challenge of upgrading what was most recently a Short-Season-A facility before the MLB takeover of the sport.
Last night the Indians made their pitch to Spokane County Commissions for the $11 million in funding. Three commissioners expressed support for the proposal; the issue will return at the group’s Sept. 12 meeting, when funding options are expected to be presented to the board. From Big Country News:
Needed upgrades include field light replacements, remodeling/expansion of the home and visitor clubhouses, relocation of the stadium’s maintenance building, adding a pitching tunnel and workout facilities, moving the bullpen, replacing player dugouts, and a complete renovation of the ball field….
[Team president Chris] Duff asked the county commissioners to consider allocating money for the stadium as soon as possible. He said a show of strong community support would make it easier to get the state to invest in stadium improvements.
“We’ve got one shot at this,” he said. “To me, the conversation is not about if we should do this, but how we should do it.”
The Spokane Indians are the kind of team both locals and MiLB officials should be working to keep. Team ownership 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.
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Photo courtesy Spokane Indians.