New Yakima Stadium Would Boost Jobs, Economic Development

AGC encouraged the Yakima City Council to support a new stadium in the city. The stadium will keep the Yakima Bears’ baseball team in town and spur economic growth in general.

“I would like to strongly encourage the Yakima City Council to consider the overall economic benefits surrounding the proposed construction of a new Yakima Ball Park at the old Boise lumber mill site” said AGC Central District Manager David Kearby in a letter to Mayor Micah Cawley and the councilmembers. “While our contractor-members know that not all of them will be able to work on the stadium they understand the benefits and positive impact to our local economy that are created by a project of this size.”

The Bears’ owners have proposed a stadium with 3000 seats 10 glass skyboxes a first-base patio and plenty of opportunities for concerts soccer and even ice skating. Backers of the proposed stadium which would be built on the former Boise Cascade property are proposing to finance it through a combination of private and public funding. The facility would be owned by the city and leased to the Bears Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Under the plan outlined by the Bears the club would contribute $5 million to the project which carries an estimated price tag of $23 million. The rest would come from a combination of public funding that would require approval from city county and state officials. The new stadium would be in the southwest corner of the 211-acre former Boise Cascade property on 10 acres donated by the propertys three Oregon-based owners.

Potential sources of funds include an estimated $15 million available through state programs to redevelop former landfills – in addition to being the former home to Boise Cascade the site was once the citys garbage dump – and $6 million from a state program that allows counties to use a portion of the states sales tax to support economic development.

The team’s current lease at the 16-year-old Yakima County Stadium expires in 2015 and the owners have said the organization will pay out the remainder of the lease if the team moves to a new stadium. The current stadium is the smallest in the Northwest League and Bears’ owners have pointed out that that nearly all Northwest League teams have received new stadiums or major renovations over the years. Without a new stadium the owners have indicated they will likely move the team out of Yakima.

Backers of a new stadium point to a 2008 economic analysis of the mill site projecting its redevelopment could generate more than $1 billion in direct economic benefits for the Yakima Valley. New residential and commercial uses within the site could boost city property taxes by $500 million generate $68 million in local sales tax revenues and create 3900 permanent jobs.