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Tacoma: Council to discuss revamping Tacoma Dome to potentially draw NBA, NHL teams

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Sep. 13, 2011 at 1:56 pm with No Comments »
September 13, 2011 2:29 pm

Tacoma’s City Council is set to discuss revamping the aging Tacoma Dome, including potentially reconfiguring the arena in a way to attract a professional basketball or hockey team to town.

“It’s a very preliminary discussion,” city spokesman Rob McNair-Huff said today.  “The council will be  discussing potentially conducting a feasibility study to remodel (the dome) for an NBA or NHL team .”

If city officials agree to conduct the study, it would examine costs and potential options for upgrades. The study likely would be paid for by city reserve funds, officials said.

City officials have said the 29-year-old public facility, which in recent years primarily has been used for concerts, high school graduations and sporting events, and trade shows, is in need of millions of dollars worth of upgrades to keep it competitive as a public arena.

With the new LeMay Automobile Museum nearing completion next door to the dome, timing for such upgrades might be right, officials have said.

“I think there is an opportunity to make this our own version of Qwest Field and Safeco,” Mayor Marilyn Strickland said of the Tacoma Dome district, during a tour of the neighboring automobile museum today.

Officials have cautioned the idea for dome upgrades is still in nascent stages; the city is not actively competing for a professional sports franchise at this point. Council members are expected to discuss the feasibility study at today’s Committee-of-The-Whole meeting at 3 p.m.

Since its opening in 1983, the Tacoma Dome has hosted a number of high-profile sporting events, including the 1990 Goodwill Games, the NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four and the United States Figure Skating Championships.

It also has served as home to six professional sports franchises, including the Tacoma Stars and Seattle Sounders (soccer), the Tacoma Rockets and Tacoma Sabercats (minor league hockey) and the Tacoma Express (football). The NBA’s Seattle Supersonics played at the T-Dome during the 1994-95 season, while the Seattle Center’s Key Arena was undergoing remodeling.

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