Spokane County is willing to contribute $8 million to upgrade Avista Stadium, but the Spokane Indians must come up with another $14 million needed to upgrade the fan ballpark and bring it up to new Major League Baseball standards.
On Tuesday, Spokane County commissioners passed a resolution on how much they are willing to pay to upgrade Avista Stadium, which serves as the county-owned home field for the Indians. Commissioners Josh Kearns and Al French supported the resolution. Commissioner Mary Cooney was out of town on county business and was unable to vote.
The resolution is not included in the commissioners’ agenda, which is a document that lets the public know what the commissioners will discuss and vote on during the meeting.
Under the terms of the resolution, Spokane County will fund up to $8 million in stadium improvements as long as the Indians can’t get other officials and private entities to match those dollars. For example, if the Indians raise $3 million, the county will only contribute $3 million.
The resolution comes with several other provisions.
To receive county funding, the team must cover all future Avista Stadium maintenance costs and pay an annual lease of $100,000 or more. The Indians currently pay the county about $25,000 a year.
On new maintenance and lease conditions, the county requires a percentage of the Indians’ revenue, including ticket, merchandise and concession sales. French said the county and the Indians will separate percentages in the next round of lease negotiations.
It is unclear whether the Indians fully agree to the terms of the resolution.
Spokane Indians President Chris Duff said in a statement that the team appreciates the county’s commitment to keeping a professional baseball team in Spokane.
“We look forward to meeting to work out details on the future of the stadium and the team,” Duff wrote. I’m sure we’ll find a place that works for both parties.
Without major improvements to Avista Stadium, Spokane will almost certainly lose MLB-affiliated professional baseball. The Spokane Indians play in the High-A Northwest League as an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. Major League Baseball requires its minor league partners to improve their facilities primarily for the benefit of the players.
Some of the new fields require only minor changes, but the 64-year-old Avista Stadium needs major renovations to meet MLB’s new standards. Among other mandatory upgrades, the ballpark will need a new field surface and new lights, locker rooms and battery boxes.
From an athletic standpoint, many of the Spokane Indians’ facilities are woefully inadequate. For example, players — some of whom have signed multimillion-dollar contracts to play professional baseball — must train in a roughly 600-square-foot weight room with less equipment than a high school gym.
According to a study by ALSC Architects, making Avista Stadium compliant with MLB’s new requirements would cost at least $16 million. The Indians also want to expand the stadium for fans, bringing the total cost to $22 million. A new scoreboard and an outfield concert are among the amenities the Indians will add for the benefit of spectators.
The Indians and Spokane County began negotiations a year ago. They considered various ways to fund the improvements, including a voter-approved property tax increase.
If the county refuses to budge from the terms outlined in the settlement, the Indians will have to find money elsewhere.
Duff said the team and 10 other professional and amateur Washington ball clubs plan to ask the Legislature for funding for the stadium in January. The Indians hope to get $5.8 million from the state.
The group said it could contribute $2 million, leaving a $6 million deficit. Spokane Valley, Spokane and private businesses may be involved, French said.
“It can come from many different sources; just so you know,” he said.
The county’s decision may not be the final offer. While Duff has repeatedly said the Indians have no interest in leaving Spokane, the team may have more leverage in the negotiations than meets the eye.
It is not uncommon for professional sports teams to relocate if they find better financial opportunities in a new city. Teams often leave over stadium disputes — the Las Vegas Raiders left Oakland three years ago, largely because of a dispute between the owner and the city.
Regardless of the negotiations between the county and the Indians, time is running out. Avista Stadium must meet MLB regulations before the start of the 2026 season.