A 2,500-seat, $35 million performing arts center in the Tri-Cities would attract nearly 120,000 people to nearly 200 performances every year, according to a study made public Wednesday.
The Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District board accepted the pro forma proposal without comment at its monthly meeting, noting that it was the last of four projects being considered.
The board hopes to complete reviews of all proposals by the end of the year, and select one or a combination of several to present to voters in 2012 for tax-based financing.
The 100-page document, prepared by VenuWorks of Iowa, the same company that manages the Three Rivers Convention Center and Toyota Center/Arena complex, describes what the performing arts center would bring to the region and how much it would cost to construct and operate. It also presents a work plan for staffing and design criteria.
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The board already has detailed proposals from proponents of a $37.5 million aquatic center, a multimilliondollar exhibit hall expansion for the Three Rivers Convention Center and a request to help build a $50 million interpretive center at Columbia Park where a groundbreaking was held last week.
The regional facility district board members hope to wrap up evaluating all four proposals and decide in January which one or combination of projects to pursue as a taxpayer-funded regional project.
A committee of three city council members -- Ed Revell from Richland, Don Britain of Kennewick and board Chairman Matt Watkins of Pasco -- will review the proposals in detail before the full board discusses them prior to making the final decision of what to take to voters in November.
Voters in all three cities will decide on approving a sales tax increase of at least one-tenth of a percent to pay for construction of a regional project.
Watkins said an evaluation process is under way and will help board members see how each project stacks up against the others in meeting community expectations for a regional public facility.
The evaluation matrix isn't "an end-all for me," said Watkins, but it is a valuable aid as the board goes through the complex proposals.
Also on Wednesday, board members talked about whether the regional board should accept responsibility for operational costs of regional projects.
"We got into this to provide capital for a project, not to become involved in operational expenses," said Rebecca Francik, a Pasco councilwoman who is a representative to the board.
Revell cautioned that ongoing operational costs are a greater risk than in getting a facility built.
The board agreed to see if the three cities might be interested in becoming sponsors, so they could be responsible for any financial risk associated with operational costs, once the project is built.