Tacoma mayor won’t rule out idea of NBA, NHL at Dome

Dec 21, 2016, 8:40 AM
Tacoma, Tacoma Dome, arena...
The Tacoma Dome will soon receive more than $20 million in renovations. (Chris Sullivan/ KIRO Radio)
(Chris Sullivan/ KIRO Radio)

The planned renovations to the Tacoma Dome wouldn’t be nearly enough to make it NBA/NHL ready. But Mayor Marilyn Strickland still believes the venue has the potential to be home to professional sports teams some day.

“I continue to believe that the Tacoma Dome is an ideal location for NBA and NHL teams representing our metropolitan region,” Strickland told MyNorthwest. “It is accessible by transit, including Sounder rail, buses, and regional light rail in the future.”

The City of Tacoma approved $21.3 million in renovations to Washington state’s largest indoor venue at the end of November. The aging city-owned facility that opened in 1983 will be revitalized with new seating, renovated restrooms, modernization of backstage areas, beautification, and upgrades to security and loading docks.

Related: Seahawks’ Russell Wilson partners with SoDo arena group

“Investing in the infrastructure and long-term future of the Tacoma Dome is vital to the continued growth of arts and tourism in the region,” Mayor Strickland said at the time. “The sustained economic vitality of the Dome will continue to advance Tacoma’s reputation as a destination.”

Tacoma looked into housing an NBA team years ago. The city even sought a feasibility study to understand what it would take to prepare the Dome for pro basketball or hockey.

Former city councilmember Spiro Manthou told The News Tribune in 2011 that renovating the Dome would financially make much more sense than building a new arena.

Since the Seattle City Council rejected the Occidental Avenue street vacation that would have allowed Chris Hansen and his growing investment team to build a new SoDo arena, alternatives have continued to be tossed around. Those ideas have included remodeling or demolishing KeyArena. And, back in May, the Tacoma Dome was tossed back into the mix.

“Of course the events that took place in Seattle over the last few days about what happened with the street vacation turned attention back to Tacoma,” Strickland told KIRO 7. “I’ve received some emails from folks, some phone calls saying, what about the Tacoma Dome?”

One hurdle to getting an NBA and/or NHL team into the Tacoma Dome is the price of additional renovations. Strickland says it would cost north of $400 million to meet modern standards for the business model.

So, for now, it looks as if the standoff between the SoDo arena group and KeyArena investors will continue. Whether or not Tacoma will enter the fray is still up in the air. At least we can look forward to a renovated venue in the near future. Work will begin in Tacoma in the summer of 2017. New seating will be installed during summer of 2018 with all renovations completed by fall of 2018.

What are they building?

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Tacoma mayor won’t rule out idea of NBA, NHL at Dome