TACOMA, Wash. – For 28 years the Tacoma Dome has been home to monster trucks, pop stars, and the occasional RV show … but a pro basketball team?
Members of the Tacoma City Council say it could happen. They're planning to spend $100,000 on a feasibility study to see what it would cost to renovate the aging dome, and determine whether there would be enough financial and public support to bring a team to town.
Mayor Marilyn Strickland points to the new international car museum being built next door. She thinks the pair would make an attractive combination.
"You look to the new museum, you look at the Tacoma Dome and you wonder what can be done to improve it. As we talk about improving our current asset we think about a long-term, strategic way to make it a regional asset and make it work hard for the citizens,” she said.
Some in the city, like Alex Neymin, are skeptical.
"We're too small," he said. "If they couldn't make it work in Seattle, why would it work here?"
Supporters point to a population of 1.5 million people within 10 miles of downtown Tacoma, and the huge support shown to the Sonics when they played one season at the Dome when KeyArena was being renovated in the mid-1990s.
The general feeling among those at city hall is that if an NBA team comes back to Washington, an NHL franchise would follow in its footsteps. So Tacoma, or whomever is willing to pay for it, could get a two-fer.
Of course, it all comes down to who would pay for a renovation of the dome which would likely run in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Seattle voters were unwilling to fund a new Sonics arena. Some in Tacoma feel the same.
"I'm not sure if they would go for spending a lot of money," said Tacoma mom Denise Cline. "There are so many other things that need our attention right now."