Legislature approves Hawkins’ Regional Sports Complex bill

The state Senate today gave final approval to Sen. Brad Hawkins’ proposal, Senate Bill 5001, which would allow communities to form a second public facilities district, concurring with amendments made by the state House of Representatives.

Hawkins’ legislation is aimed at supporting development of a regional sports complex in the greater Wenatchee area and authorizes local governments to join together to seek voter approval of regional facilities. The bill provides a legal framework for the financing and governance of a new public facilities district.

“I am beyond excited to get this bill to the governor’s desk. To say that it had quite the journey is probably a massive understatement. Despite the strong bipartisan votes within the two chambers, it was one of the most challenging bills I’ve ever had to navigate through the process,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins credited passage to the many local officials and organizations who supported the effort. “I am so grateful for the help of so many local leaders. Successfully navigating through the entire process was a huge effort, but our locals were with me every step of the way. It was awesome! I’d also like to thank my House seatmates, Rep. Goehner and Rep. Steele who assisted with the bill in the House,” Hawkins said.

Senate Bill 5001 was supported by the City of Wenatchee, City of East Wenatchee, Chelan County, Douglas County, Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority, Chelan-Douglas Transportation Council, Link Transit, Our Valley, Our Future, Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Confluence Health.

In a showing of support for the bill, a previously sent letter of support said, “SB 5001 will provide our region with the organizational and financing mechanism to seek voter approval to form a second Public Facilities District for the specific purpose of constructing and operating a regional aquatic center-sports complex.”

The supporters added, “As our region continues to thoughtfully consider the possibilities of joining forces to construct and operate a regional aquatic center-sports complex and to potentially seek voter-approval, we need certainty that a sufficient organizational and financial mechanism is available.”

Working with local mayors, county commissioners, regional port, chamber, community leaders, and swimming groups, Hawkins hosted several meetings last fall on the proposal. From those conversations, stakeholders have expressed interest in potentially siting a project in the Wenatchi Landing area near East Wenatchee, 283 acres of regionally accessible land near the Odabashian Bridge.

Hawkins believes a Regional Sports Complex in Wenatchi Landing will serve as a catalyst for development of significant economic activities in that area, including hotels, restaurants, and retail shopping.

Senate Bill 5001 was approved unanimously by the Senate on March 1st and yesterday by the House of Representatives by a vote of 91-6. It was approved by five different legislative committees, often with various changes along the way. This afternoon, the Senate concurred unanimously to the House amendments, which constitutes final Legislative approval. The bill now heads to Governor Inslee for his consideration.

The Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority is currently administering a feasibility study to analyze the project and its economic benefits. The study group is comprised of numerous local officials and is chaired by East Wenatchee Mayor Jerrilea Crawford. For more information, click here.