Wednesday's meeting of the Regional Public Facilities District board was a two-act show before a standing room only audience at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.
Proponents for a $37.5 million aquatics center and advocates for a $25 million performing arts center showcased their best stuff in trying to win over directors who will decide this summer what project or projects to pursue.
The presentations are the last of four that the board is considering as it prepares to present a project to voters in seeking a one-tenth of one percent sales tax increase to build a regional facility within the next few years.
The crowd of about 400 was far larger than at the board's April meeting, where presentations were made to expand the convention center with an exhibit hall or to contribute to the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center.
The aquatics team, led by Randy Willis, presented a visual smorgasbord of water experiences, including riding down a water roller coaster, balancing on a surf board against big waves and surviving a tsunami.
The performing arts team staged a live entertainment program, using Beatles and John Lennon music to help the board "imagine" how a multi-event center could benefit theTri-Cities, if only the board would "let it be."
With dozens of musicians, singers and actors performing on cue, and Jeff Kossow explaining that dozens of performing arts groups would benefit from a 70,000 square-foot center that would bring more than 80 events annually, the presentation ended with the board and audience giving a standing ovation.
Kossow said design would be critical and the facility should have no less than 2,000 seats. It could be done for about $25 million and would potentially add between$25 million and $40 million into the region's economy.
Kossow said such a performing arts center would attract patrons from throughout southeast Washington while also offering entertainment that would keep Tri-Citians from traveling to larger, out of town venues.
The presentation for the competition and recreational aquatics center focused on unmet need.
"Of the 35 largest cities in Washington, only three do not have indoor swimming facilities: Kennewick, Richland and Pasco," Willis said.
An 89,000 square-foot facility, placed on about 7 to 10 acres, would meet that need, he said.
As proposed, the aquatics center would have an indoor 50-meter competition pool, a wave pool with zero depth entry, a warm water pool for seniors and for therapeutic use, an indoor/outdoor lazy river, indoor water roller coaster, surfing, wading and spray pools and spectator seating for up to 1,000 people.
Willis said the competition pool would allow two dozen swim meets year round, bringing more than 10,000 visitors and adding an estimated$2.2 million to the economy.
The aquatics center would be designed to serve about 700,000 patrons a year and have 15 full-time employees, with another 60 seasonal staff.
With admission around $4 per person, the center could draw up to $2.5 million in revenue, netting about $54,000 in income, Willis said.
Willis noted that the aquatics center has been a citizen-driven project for more than a decade, that more than $20,000 has been raised by citizens and that the facility design has been called award-winning by Aquatics International magazine.
Matt Watkins, president of the facilities district board, said with all four proposals presented, the board now will try to compare them and determine what voters in the three cities might be willing to support.
Watkins noted that a mailed survey to 3,000 randomly chosen voters in the district will help the board in its evaluation.
The next meeting is set for 5:45 p.m. June 8 at the Richland Community Center.