The Link: See This Ambitious Kennewick Convention Hall, Performing Arts Complex
Back in 2013 voters rejected a new 1/10th sales tax that would have provided much-needed expansion and renovation for the Three Rivers Convention Center. Now, city officials are back with a revised proposal that has some positive changes.
The Link is an ambitious project, a $35 million dollar project that would build a 2,300 seat theater, add 50,000 square feet of convention space, and renovate the Toyota Center. The new tax would be $.2 cents additional on a purchase of $10 dollars, and unlike the 2013 proposal, has a sunset, or expiration of 15-20 years when the bond is paid off. The previous 2013 plan had no such end plan.
The Link would not only provide much needed convention and theater space to attract business and Broadway and other shows, but would redesign the Toyota Center so it faces East, towards Vista Field. The Toyota Center, built just prior to the Tri-City Americans coming here from New Westminster in 1989, is literally falling apart.
In fact, in the Western Hockey League, the downstairs area is known as "Alcatraz" by visiting teams-referring especially to the dressing rooms. Ceiling tiles are not replaced in the hallways because there are frequent leaks, and it's not cost effective. The Three Rivers Convention Center, while attracting a lot of events, needs expansion to grab even more business.
The new project would allow numerous concerts and Broadway shows to come here, when they by-pass the area now due to limited seating as well as logistical issues. The Toyota Center is often configured for hockey and indoor football, meaning certain events can't be held on those days.
If voters approve the tax, then the regional public facilities district will not be able to levy any NEW sales taxes until this one is paid off, another good selling point. The brunt of the burden would also be helped by the thousands of visitors who come here already and buy goods and services.
Depending upon progress and public awareness, as well as gauging level of support, Kennewick voters could be asked to vote on this project as early as August.
Many complain about events that pass us by, and want more tourism and other business to come here. This would be an excellent way to do it.