SPOKANE, Wash. — Voters made two decisions related to Joe Albi Stadium among many others on Tuesday.
The first: Passing the school bond measure. On Tuesday night, voters were approving the nearly $500 million bond, with 67 percent of counted ballots in the “yes” column. The bond includes $31 million to replace the aging Joe Albi Stadium.
The second was an advisory vote on where to build the replacement. Voters were given the choice between building the new 5,000-seat venue at the same site as the current stadium or downtown near the Spokane Arena. They are overwhelmingly choosing the current site so far, which has 65 percent of the counted vote.
Many people may be wondering what happens next. The short answer is: It's up to the school board.
First, the board waits until the election is certified on Nov. 27. Second, the board members will meet to make the final call on where and when construction of the new stadium will begin. The advisory vote was non-binding, so the board could in theory still choose to build downtown. Third, a design phase will begin before construction starts.
Spokane Public Schools Spokesperson Brian Coddington said said the school board will make those decisions “sooner rather than later" within a matter of weeks or several months. Probably in a matter of weeks or within a couple of months.”
Coddington said it would probably be a few years before the stadium would be built.
Although going against the voters would certainly be a surprising move, there is one seriously complicating factor. The location preferred by the voters is also going to be the location of a new middle school.
The same bond that provides funds for the Albi replacement provides funding for three brand new school buildings, and one is going to be on the site of the current stadium and its parking lot. That means there would not be space to build a new stadium while the old one is still up. In other words, the old stadium would have to be torn down and the district would need to find a new place to have football games for the next two years.
If the board went against voters and approved a downtown stadium anyway, the old Joe Albi could remain standing while the new one is under construction.