SPOKANE, Wash. - Friday night lights - one way or another - are coming to an end at Joe Albi Stadium.
"The stadium that people see and have used has lived its useful life," said Brian Coddington, Spokane Public Schools Spokesman. "It's been over a 50 year lifespan, so now we are moving to the next 50 years."
He says the size and maintenance of the stadium is just too much for the district.
"We need something that is more suitable for high school athletics," he said.
The school district board has now voted to use the $31 million allocated for construction of a new stadium in the overall $495 million school bond that voters passed in November, to build it in the footprint of Joe Albi.
The decision comes after the Spokane Sports Commission offered to partner with the district and include their stadium in the Sportsplex project also near the Spokane Arena, potentially saving the district millions. The offer came too late.
"It was a good idea, the time just wasn't right, because we had already had the advisory vote," said Coddington.
Roughly 64 percent of voters had said they didn't want the new stadium near the arena, preferring instead that the new stadium be constructed in Northwest Spokane where Joe Albi is currently.
"The board was unanimous in that they didn't want to break the trust of voters. That is really what it came down to," said Coddington.
The new stadium will be much smaller, and share the current stadium space with a new middle school.
The district says it will begin hiring architects and contractors next summer, with ultimate completion scheduled for 2021.
It's uncertain if the old stadium will be demolished in pieces so that games can still be played, or if it will come down all at once.
The name of the new stadium is also still unknown, but the Joe Albi name might still be present.
"There is a long history there that includes the Albi family and Joe Albi himself, and we are working on a process to honor that as well," said Coddington.
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