Spokane became an incorporated City on Nov. 29, 1881,
encompassing 1.56 square miles.
1950 - 2005
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Joe Albi Stadium was built and opened
On Saturday, November 25, 1950, Memorial Stadium was officially presented to the city by attorney Joseph A. Albi, leader of the Athletic Round Table (ART), and dedicated by Governor Arthur Langlie. The ceremonies were prior to the kickoff of the Washington–Washington State football game (now known as the Apple Cup). The rivalry game had been absent from the city for forty years, last played in Spokane in 1910.
The stadium is located on part of the former site of the U.S. Army's Baxter General Hospital, which operated on the site during World War II between March 1943 and December 12, 1945.
Nicknamed the Boone Street Barn) the Spokane Coliseum was an indoor arena in the western United States, located in Spokane, Washington. Opened in late 1954, it had a seating capacity of 5,400.
After more than a year of construction, the arena was dedicated on December 3, 1954, in a program headlined by Metropolitan Opera soprano Patrice Munsel, a Spokane native. The largest crowds in its early years were for a Catholic Mass and stage shows by Lawrence Welk and Liberace, respectively.
First Youth Award Luncheon and Banquet
In partnership with the Sports Writers and Broadcasters (SWABS), the GSSA organized the first annual Youth Awards Luncheon and Banquet. In addition, the original Hall of Fame Committee was formed in 1960 to honor athletes, coaches, and contributors who brought national and regional recognition to the area.
Hall of Fame
The first class was inducted into the Hall of Fame during half-time of the WSU/Arizona football game at Albi Stadium in 1963.
Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame
Founded in 1965, The Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame, a committee of the Spokane Sports Commission, has celebrated the achievements of top athletes, coaches, and contributors in the Spokane region.
The original Hall of Fame room was built in the old Spokane Coliseum and dedicated
May 15, 1965.
World Fair Opens
World’s Fair (Expo ‘74) opens in Spokane, WA Washington State Pavilion and Opera House are used to host events/exhibits. At the conclusion of the Fair, the two buildings are transferred to the City of Spokane.
The 1974 World’s Fair in Spokane focused a great deal of attention on this region as a tourism destination.
In 1987 a progressive group of Spokane business leaders formed an economic development group called “Momentum 87” and solicited pledges from businesses to provide funding for organizations that would specifically contribute to the economic growth in the region. The CVB had several economic development projects funded by this group, including providing staff and convention sales efforts to fill the new convention space added to the site of Expo ’74. The Momentum funding brought the CVB budget to approximately $800,000. That expanded convention space, called the Ag Trade Center, opened in 1989 and moved Spokane into the regional and state convention business, opening the door for larger meetings in the future. Studies were soon underway to determine the feasibility of expanding the Convention Center further.
Formation of Public Facilities District
Formation of PFD, 1989. Prior to the formation of PFD, public venues were managed by the City but a City has other priorities (police, fire, roads, etc.) so Jim West introduces legislation to create a Public Facilities District specifically to manage venues.
The GSSA created a business plan in 1989 to recruit and attract sports events with the goal of generating an economic impact (first Sports Commission of its kind in the State). “Momentum” (a private economic develop program) funded the plan that resulted in the hiring of staff and provided marketing monies. Momentum funding initiated what is the current Spokane Sports mission in sports development. The GSSA was managed with one full time and one part time employee and a 40-member board.
Anticipating the need for an independent corporate structure for future fundraising efforts, the GSSA filed for a 501(c)(3) non-profit designation in 1989.
The First Sports Commission established in the Northwestern states.
In 1989 the Spokane Public Facilities District was formed and plans moved forward to replace the antiquated Coliseum with a new 12,000 seat multi-purpose arena.
The Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena opened in 1995 as a sports, entertainment and event venue.
After several attempts to replace the Spokane Coliseum, the Spokane Public Facilities District was created in 1989 by the Washington State Legislature by virtue of RCW 36.100. The Legislature appropriated $500,000 to the District to commence operations.
A ballot proposition was placed on the County general election ballot in November of 1990 with two issues: (1) a property tax bond issue of $38 million to finance construction; and (2) a measure to validate the District, which would allow it to impose a two percent hotel/motel room tax on properties of 40 or more units. The second measure passed while the first failed to get the supermajority needed for approval.
In December of 1990 the City of Spokane and Spokane County each issued $15.4 million in bonds to preserve tax-exempt status. This was the basis of the first Interlocal Cooperation Agreement among the District, City and County.
During 1990, discussions for a new arena to replace the Spokane Coliseum began. One factor that led to the idea included several damages to the arena which had a leaking roof and rusted boilers. Another major issue was the size of Spokane Coliseum, which had then recently lost potential bookings from ZZ Top and New Kids on the Block due to its small size; Spokane was losing concert dates to larger venues in Pullman and Boise.
Tourism Promotion Assessment
The CVB was under the leadership of John Brewer when the idea of a Tourism Promotion Assessment was born. Hotel owners and managers throughout the region helped develop the state legislation that was necessary to enact the addition of a small fee paid on the sale of each room night. These funds, collected by the State Department of Revenue and returned to the municipality, are by nature of the legislation specifically dedicated to tourism marketing that increases room nights used in the area.
The marketing programs and operations are funded through regional TPA dollars from Spokane County and the City of Liberty Lake. Lodging tax funds also support programming and operations allocated by the cities of Spokane, Spokane Valley, and Liberty Lake.
Spokane Convention Center and Opera House Opens
The newly remodeled Spokane Convention Center and Opera House opened. The Convention Center has 40,000 sq ft and six meeting rooms.
In 1976 the original Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau was incorporated to continue marketing the region to visitors. That corporation functioned under the wings of the Chamber of Commerce for several years.
Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena
In June of 1995 the City of Spokane issued $7.7 million in lease revenue bonds to fund the demolition of the Coliseum and to pay off a line of credit between the City and Seafirst Bank which was established to fund the City’s acquisition of property for the project construction site and for some technical services such as environmental assessment, title reports and surveying services.
The Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena opened on time in September of 1995. Total project cost was $62,000,000.
Stephanie Curran start date.
1992 Arena Bonds
In October 2001, the Board refunded the 1992 Arena bonds and achieved a present day savings of approximately $3.95 million, which represented a 12% savings
Convention Center Expansion
With the success of the Ag Trade Center, in 2002 Spokane voters approved a bond issue to further expand the Convention Center, improve the County Fair & Expo Center, and create Center Place at Mirabeau Park in Spokane Valley. There were other events that impacted the regional tourism marketing efforts at that same time.
The Momentum group sunset, and those funds were no longer available to the CVB. The cities of Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake incorporated, moving Lodging Taxes collected in those cities out of the County pool that had funded the CVB in the past. New contracts with each municipality were forged bringing the CVB budget to $1.2 million, but with expanded facilities on the horizon it was apparent that additional marketing funds would be needed.
In May of 2002, Spokane County voters overwhelmingly authorized the Regional Projects including a significant expansion of the Spokane Convention Center and the new projects at both the Fair and Expo Center and at Mirabeau Point. Bonds for these projects are being retired by extension of the taxes approved in 1992 for the Arena and by the State of Washington’s contribution of a .033% sales tax rebate made available for District projects state-wide.
PFD manages Convention Center and Performing Art Center
In July 2003, the 1995 City of Spokane bonds were paid off using excess tax revenues and the District issued $77 million in bonds for the Convention Center Expansion project. The County issued $12 million for the Fair and Expo Center and the City of Spokane Valley issued $7 million for CenterPlace at Mirabeau Point.
PFD takes over managing Convention Center and Performing Arts Center
PFD taking over managing Convention Center and Performing Arts Center, 2003. Culture of Silos begins at the PFD between the Arena and CC/INB employees.When these organizations merged, we should have grown into a new growth phase but instead we regressed.
1st year to host NCAA Basketball tourney
Swap Option Agreement
In August 2005, the Board of Directors took advantage of a swap option agreement, selling the option to refinance the 2003 bonds for $9.1million. The additional money was used to complete the CC expansion and renovation.
Paul Christiansen start date 2005-2012
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Mike Gaffaney start date 2006
Convention has its Second Major Expansion
Convention Center has its second major expansion adding a 100,000 sq ft Exhibit Hall, six new meeting rooms, and included remodeling the original exhibit space (Ag Trade Center) into a grand Ballroom (the largest in the city)
The new expansion space paves the way for larger conventions and events, such as the highly celebrated 2007 US Figure Skating Championships
Arena hosts US Figure Skating Championships and breaks attendance record. CC holds the practice sessions with a temporary ice rink built in the exhibit hall.
Newly expanded Convention Center Opens but it is determined there is a need for meeting space adjacent to the exhibit hall
Spokane Sports starts to program the CC with sporting events such as the PNQ and Middle School Basketball State Championships
Arena hosts US Figure Skating again and breaks its previous attendance record.
The Spokane Arena hosted 166 major events and 408 minor events with 879,813 guests attending. A net operating profit of $2,234,475 was generated by events at the Arena.
The INB Performing Arts Center welcomed 133,613 guests to 68 major and 17 minor events, generating a net operating profit of $332,534.
The Spokane Convention Center continued to exceed expectations with 274,422 guests attending 316 major and 160 minor events. The Convention Center was responsible for 48,479 hotel room nights and generated $59,510,259 of economic impact for the Spokane community.
Facility improvements completed in 2010 included a new weight room, new basketball backstops, Phase I of the Arena landscape renewal project, suite upgrades, completion of the re-cladding project and an HD switcher and related HD gear at the Arena. At the Convention Center we purchased bleachers for the sporting events, put a new roof on the ATC and meeting rooms, and upgraded the audio and video systems. A new on-stage storage area was constructed in the INB Performing Arts Center, and the hot water system was upgraded.
In December 2011, the Board refunded the 2001 Arena bonds and achieved a present-day savings of approximately $1.5 million, which represented a 10% savings. They will mature in 2017.
In April 2012, District voters reauthorized and extended both the Sales/Use Tax and the Hotel/Motel Tax for an additional ten years to September 1, 2043, to finance the cost of improving the Convention Center Exhibit Hall and the adjacent Centennial Trail and riverbank (the Convention Center Completion Project), with the taxes to be terminated upon final payment of the District’s debt for the Project.
In connection with the voter approval of the extension and reauthorization of the Sales/Use Tax and the Hotel/Motel Tax to finance the Project, two events happened. One, in December 2012 Spokane County issued LTGO/Refunding bonds Series 2012 and loaned $15 million of the proceeds to the District with semiannual payments to be made until the loan maturity in 2043. And, two, the City of Spokane agreed to impose an additional 1.3 percent lodging excise tax, effective January 1st, 2013, and to forward the proceeds of this City-wide Hotel/Motel Tax to the District to finance the Project. The Lodging Tax Allocation Committee was formed to govern allocation of the funds not needed by the District. The purpose of any remaining funds is CC marketing and promotion.
Spokane Sports starts to focus most of its funding to program the CC. The need for a sports specific venue become evident.
In 2013, the Spokane Arena hosted 120 major events and 430 minor events with 659,461 guests attending. A net operating profit of $1,350,649.22 was generated by events at the Arena.
The INB Performing Arts Center welcomed 159,033 guests to 110 major and 60 minor events, generating a net operating profit of $551,864.31.
The Spokane Convention Center continued to exceed expectations with 243,848 guests attending 358 major and 268 minor events. The Convention Center was responsible for 39,841 hotel room nights and generated $38,858,168 of economic impact for the Spokane Community.
In May 2013, the District issued two series of bonds. Series A, $43,985,000, provided the rest of the money to finance the Project. Series B, $83,995,000, provided funds to terminate the 2005 swap option agreement and allowed the District to advance refund the 2003 Convention Center Expansion bonds.
In September 2013, the District sold the former parking lot to the south of the INB Performing Arts Center to the Worthy Group to develop a nationally branded, multi-story “convention” hotel with 700+ rooms, 70,000 sf of meeting space and 900+ parking spaces. The District gained a condominium interest in the garage with a guaranteed annual payment of $400,000 and the Worthy Group accepted all responsibility for all operational and capital obligations.
Jessica Deri start date 2013
Growth in every Venue
In 2014, the Spokane Arena hosted 124 major events and 360 minor events with 653,253 guests attending. A net operating profit of $1,345,194 was generated by events at the Arena.
The INB Performing Arts Center welcomed 189,040 guests to 115 major and 60 minor events, generating a net operating profit of $515,641.
The Spokane Convention Center continued to exceed expectations with 341,182 guests attending 373 major and 272 minor events. The Convention Center was responsible for 44,047 hotel room nights and generated $50,975,922 of economic impact for the Spokane Community.
Convention Center expansions 2015.
Third expansion is complete, adding 20,000 sq ft of exhibit space, 12 meeting rooms, an executive boardroom, new ballroom, pedestrian link, Centennial Trail/riverbank restoration and new skybridge connecting to 700 room Davenport Grand Hotel and parking garage.
Stephanie Curren starts at GM at CC/IMB
Andrew Dolan start date 2015
The first year the Convention Center turned a profit.
PFD hosted three Presidential rallies (Donald Trump & Bernie Sanders x2)
Notified the hotels & long-time clients that we were changing our pricing system
In November, 2017, the District issued $18,485,000 in bonds to remodel the INB Performing Arts Center. Planned renovations include replacing the original 1970’s era window wall and HVAC systems, replacing the auditorium seating to become compliant with current ADA laws, adding a backstage elevator and lobby improvements to enhance the guest experience. The building will be closed from May through October 2018 to allow for construction.
Mike Gaffaney promoted to Director of Event Ops
Jessica Deri promoted to DOS
PFD and City work to convince the School Board to bring the stadium downtown and make the Sportsplex and Stadium one facility saving millions in tax dollars. The school board votes no.
Beginning in 2018, no more General Managers and Assistant General Managers per Venue. Changed to Directors (similar to VP’s) of specific areas: Sales, Entertainment, Facilities, Sports, HR, Finance,
Matt Meyer Promoted to House Manager at Theater
Reorg in 2018
Stephanie Curran CEO of PFD
Total Budget: $55M
New CEO at Visit Spokane
Most profitable year for Theater
Hozier: Fastest sold out show in theater history 14 days, 100% clean
Matt Gibson & Becca Watters depart
Best Year in History
Combine marketing departments and move to Arena to cover ALL PFD marketing so that greater expertise in each area of discipline
Matt Meyer Promoted to Director of Entertainment
Receive CARES Act funds 2.4MM
COVID 19 SHUTDOWN MARCH 2020-SEPTEMBER 2021
PFD discovers Matt Gibson and Becca Watters produced a podcast mocking the PFD and its staff and put on multiple public platforms. The Podcast ran from 2019 to 2020 and was discovered by PFD in July 2020. Cease and desist letter sent.
COVID Shutdown March - September 2021
SSC partners with Visit Spokane to lobby the State Legislature to increase the TPA from $2/night to a max of $5/night. The Bill passes the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor.
COVID essentially closes down all sporting events in March. Spokane Sports develops a strategy to carry maintain the team through the pandemic and avoid layoffs. The Board supports utilizing reserve funds and pursue all possible federal recovery funds to ensure the team stays employed and continues marketing to attract events once COVID restrictions where raised.
First Event is Staged in the Podium
In December, the first event is staged in the Podium
Building of the Downtown Stadium
Paul Christiansen start date 2021
Receive SVOG Grant Funds
The business community asks Stephanie Curran to try one more time with a new school board to get the Stadium built downtown. Even though the plans to rebuild at Albi are already underway. DSP work with Stephanie Curran to convince the school board one more time. The USL shows interest in bringing a team to Spokane. In May , the School Board votes yes to moving the Stadium downtown and having the PFD own and operate it.
Getting back to events (Fall of 2021) at the Arena with a new Operations crew. We opened a new building - which none of us had ever done before - it was tough, but we made it!
Monte Kuch & Stephanie Huff depart
Signed OVG Booking Agreement
Turnover of significant amount of staff in 2021
Opening of the Podium, 2021
Building of the Downtown Stadium, 2021-2023
Sir Paul Amazed.
Announcement/hosting the 2022 USA Track & Field Indoor Championships; most complex event/NBC broadcast/notoriety.
The Podium is opened with a schedule of 13 track & field events, a World Record is established in women’s medley, and the opening track season culminates with the hosting of the USATF National Indoor Championships.
Sir Paul amazed: McCartney makes his Spokane debut in a historic night at Spokane Arena. May 1, 2022
Created Department Leads
Jennifer Kletke 2022
New structure of merit increases based on merit not longevity
New salary structure 2022
Most citywide conventions in Spokane history – 2022
Hamilton at FICA
Brittany Garwood departs and a system of chaos is uncovered. Clean up and re-org of finance department begins creating an opportunity for evolution into a department of vision, budgeting, forecasting, etc.
New Board at PFD with a business minded approach and support of CEO.
Summer of 2022 at the Convention Center had the most conferences back to back in history. - we pulled it off without a major eff-up! And all our contractors succeeded as well. Post-Covid, this was a major achievement and relief.
Restructure AEG partnership rebates
Bob Dylan rehearsal & show
Graduations moved to the Podium
CC pricing study - shows we are below market value
Arena and Theater actual operation costs are figured out due to COVID shutting down both buildings