The future looks bright for Tacoma’s public gathering spaces according to Kim Bedier, the city’s venue and events director. She gave an update on recent and future renovations during a budget meeting with Tacoma City Council on Nov. 6.
Bedier spoke on the $32 million in renovations just completed at Tacoma Dome. The remodeled facility will host 30 percent more events than in 2016. Bedier noted that some things in need of renovations were not done due to budget restraints. This includes the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, elevators, the marquee sign and the adjacent Exhibition Hall.
Tacoma Dome re-opened as one of its main competitors, Key Arena in Seattle, just closed for extensive remodeling expected to take two years. Bedier said Tacoma Dome should benefit by booking concerts and other events that would have gone to the Seattle venue. “We will always be the biggest indoor venue in the state,” she observed.
Councilmember Conor McCarthy discussed the Tacoma Stars arena soccer team. The original team played in Tacoma Dome before folding in 1992. While that team and league are long gone, a new team using that name has been playing for the past few seasons in ShoWare Center in Kent. McCarthy asked about the possibility of the team playing in Tacoma Dome. Bedier said the smaller arena in Kent is better suited for the size of crowds the team draws. Also, an arena soccer field is set up in a hockey rink configuration. The rink in Tacoma Dome was removed after the minor-league Tacoma Sabercats hockey team folded in 2002, so it currently could not accommodate arena soccer.
McCarthy also asked about the exterior of the facility. Bedier said a cleaning contract for $150,000 was just awarded.
Greater Tacoma Convention Center is scheduled to receive new carpet on one floor next year. Light-emitting diode lighting will also be installed. A hotel is under construction next to the facility. Its completion will help with booking more events. Bedier said the goal is to increase the number of events by 25 percent by 2025.
Renovations are underway at the Pantages Theater. “That grand old lady has been given her due,” Bedier remarked. The other city-owned theaters will receive about $1.5 million in renovations in the next biennium.
The city’s Office of Arts and Cultural Vitality has been absorbed by Bedier’s department. Among goals for the next biennium is to attract more filmmaking to Tacoma. These could be independent films or other projects.