Tri-Cities sports feasibility study recommends potential sites, facilities in each city

Visit Tri-Cities funded a recent sports facility feasibility report, a study to analyze how the Tri-Cities can grow their tourism through sports.

CH Johnson Consulting started the study about six months ago. They looked at several factors including growing trends and what the population would support. Each city was analyzed based on their specific trends. In Kennewick, the company suggested an indoor sports complex near the Toyota Center and Three Rivers Convention Center.

“Sports development is a big piece of that machine that helps keep this Tri-Cities economy going,” said Michael Novakovich, President of Visit Tri-Cities. “Originally the intent was Hanford when we look all the way back to when some of our programs were developed. It’s just adding one more piece to the Tri-Cites economic machine.”

The proposed facility would be 100,000 sq. ft. Inside would be a full-sized NHL rink, four basketball courts or eight volleyball courts, a walking track, batting cages, a restaurant and more.

Family entertainment space could potentially be 30,000 sq. ft.

“That same indoor facility could be used for convention space,” Novakovich said.

It can be converted to wrestling, cheer, martial arts and performance training space.

Over in Pasco, the company recommended changes to the soccer fields near Road 68 and Burden Blvd.

“There’s additional work than can be done on that facility to include turf and lighting, so we can bring in even bigger events,” Novakovich explained. “Those same fields can be used for soccer, rugby and football.”

Novakovich said they have previously lost tournaments because the field doesn’t have turf.
In Richland, the proposed facilities were similar to Pasco.

“It’s an opportunity to capitalize on some infrastructure there as well — do some renovations there but expand it,” Novakovich said. “Additional softball, baseball fields, but also adding some fields out there so we can see soccer, football and lacrosse and rugby.”

The study shows rugby, baseball and flag football increasing in terms of participation. Ultimate frisbee, touch football and tackle football are decreasing.

The locations of the proposed facilities were based on drive time. Novakovich said the proposed facilities are in the right areas to target the locals, but also the regional market. It can potentially bring in national tournaments from Seattle, he said.

“Those dollars coming in can help small businesses thrive,” Novakovich explained. “Those tax dollars help pay for things like emergency services, police and fire and lowers our tax burden. We’ll have enhanced facilities for locals to use.”

Novakoich said these are only recommendations. Nothing is set in stone yet. Each city will have to go through the report and see what works for their budget if they decide to follow through with the proposed changes. In Kennewick, he said the facility can be funded by the public and privately compared to Richland and Pasco.