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First step emerges in Avista Stadium upgrades funding plan

Avista Stadium

We have the first commitment toward $16-$22 million in Avista Stadium upgrades, as Spokane County pledges $8 million toward MLB-mandated renovations at the home of the Spokane Indians (High-A; Northwest League).

MiLB teams were issued new facility standards after MLB took over the sport. The deadline to present such a plan to MLB officials was extended a year in communication to teams the Friday before the Winter Meetings, but the end date of 2025 to have renovations in place still remains.

In Spokane, the renovations to Avista Stadium–which originally opened in 1958 after four months of construction as home of the relocating PCL Los Angeles Angels, displaced by the arrival of the Brooklyn Dodgers to LA–are extensive and will cost an estimated $22 million when all improvements, including $6 million in fan improvements outside the scope of MLB-mandated spending, are tallied. The approval by Spokane County, which owns the ballpark, for $8 million in spending means the Indians must find sources for the remaining $14 million.

And there are many, many strings attached, with the county spending positioned as a matching measure. The Indians would need to raise another $8 million to match the country commitment; raising less will mean the county commits to less. The Indians would commit to a new lease at $100,000 per year (the current lease is for $25,000 annually) and assume all maintenance costs now covered by the county. From the Spokesman-Review:

Some newer fields only need minor changes, but 64-year-old Avista Stadium will require a major overhaul to comply with MLB’s new standards. Among other mandated upgrades, the ballpark needs a new field surface and new lights, locker rooms and batting cages.

From an athlete’s perspective, many of the Spokane Indians’ facilities are woefully inadequate. For instance, players – some of whom have signed multi-million dollar contracts to play professional baseball – have to train in a roughly 600 square-foot weight room with less equipment than a high school gym.

Bringing Avista Stadium into compliance with MLB’s new requirements will cost a bare minimum of $16 million, according to a study by ALSC Architects. The Indians also want to enhance the stadium for fans, bringing the total cost to $22 million. A new scoreboard and outfield concourse are among the amenities the Indians could add for spectators’ benefit.

One potential new funding source: State aid to all of Washington state’s MiLB teams (Tri-City, Everett, Tacoma, Spokane), with $5.8 million potentially spent in Spokane. With a $2 million contribution from the team, that still leaves a funding gap, though that specific figure will be known only when the scope of the project is finalized. But if the state comes through with $5.8 million and the Spokane Indians contribution of $2 million stands, that means the team is close to funding the bare minimum of renovations needed to maintain MLB approvals–even though the team’s cost of doing business goes up significantly.

Photo courtesy Spokane Indians.

RELATED STORIES: Spokane Indians face funding challenges for Avista Stadium upgrades; MiLB updates II: Avista Stadium upgrades

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