Toyota Center to Get Improvements for Hockey, Events
After Kennewick voters shot down (for the second time) the ambitious Link Project, Kennewick and Tri-City Americans officials stress the hockey team isn't going anywhere.
Kennewick voters downed the project, which would have used a sales tax to refurbish and remodel most of the aging Toyota Center, as well as add thousands of square feet of convention center space and an additional performing arts auditorium. It would have linked, or joined, the Toyota Center to the existing Convention Center. Supporters believe many voters mistakenly thought it would be paid for with property taxes, but it would have been a sales tax with a sunset, or expiration date.
It would have, from the design images, been a state-of-the-art draw for the entire Northwest.
Now the Americans and the Director of the Toyota Center have both issued statements saying the Americans hockey team is not leaving. There had been some rumors that the WHL team was frustrated (as was the league itself) with the 30-plus year old structure. The visitors locker room is known as'Alcatraz' by the rest of the league, plumbing leaks have caused crews to stop replacing acoustic ceiling tiles, and the structure is outdated. Numerous electrical and ice issues also have to be dealt with on a regular basis, and the list goes on.
However, the Americans, the city and the WHL have joined forces to assemble a 3-year plan to address the league's concerns. While the renovations are not what both parties want to see, there is some good news coming.
According to reports, the locker rooms are going to be renovated, new LED lighting will go up in the building, a new ice plant, and a new video scoreboard. The old unit was known for 'blacking out' sometimes during games, as well as freezing up a times. It was utilizing technology that some said was at least 20 years old.
These new enhancements, as well as additional new seating that includes cupholders in many of the areas, will be noticeable to the fans right away. Concession areas will also be upgraded to more modern, fan-friendly facilities.
The ice plant, which provides the surfaces for the Toyota Center and Toyota Arena, will also be replaced. The new design is a more modern ammonia free system, which will solve the issue of the 'soft' ice that Toyota Center is often known for. Officials say these improvements will greatly help solve a number of the concerns and issues facing the old building.