Hoquiam gets $900,000 state grant for more Olympic Stadium improvements

For structural and safety repairs

Restoration efforts underway at Olympic Stadium got another big boost Wednesday when the City of Hoquiam was awarded a $900,000 community development block grant for the project.

“I am so excited about the future of Olympic Stadium,” said Mayor Ben Winkelman. “The city is committed to making this facility a world class venue for sports, entertainment and community users, all with the deserving respect given to the deep-rooted community history of the most beautiful wooden stadium in America.”

The city began critical repair work earlier this summer replacing the aging fire suppression system, repairing the front entryway and making structural repairs, funded by $515,000 in the 2019 state capital budget.

The grant funds originate at the federal level and get passed through to the state Department of Commerce, which administers the grant. With the $900,000 grant from the state Department of Commerce, the city will be able to complete several needed structural repairs to the grandstands, safety repairs and replacement of structural beams, replacement of siding, and painting to preserve the overall facility, according to the city’s grant application.

“I generally think the bulk of the funds from this grant will go toward new siding and painting, as this specific task is about equal to the grant,” said Hoquiam City Administrator Brian Shay.

Shay provided the Daily World with a priority list for the stadium, which includes a draft list of facility needs and a cost estimate for each item, prepared by Harbor Architects. The top two priorities are the replacement of the sprinkler system below the grandstands, replacement of the front entry canopy, and work on a stadium end wall. The entryway has been replaced, and the sprinkler system work is underway and nearing completion, covered by the state capital budget grant.

The list of 37 prioritized improvements includes adding an ADA accessible restroom at the main entrance, replacement of wood ramps, stairs and walkways, roofing replacement, replacement of kitchen equipment, new PA speakers and field lighting improvements.

“The total cost estimate is approximately $4.7 million, but it does not include an estimated $3 million in seismic retrofits that could be done, or roughly $3 million to install field turf should we decide to add that enhancement at some time in the future to expand our year-round usage,” said Shay.

The hope is to raise a total of $10 million for continued preservation and enhancement projects in and around the stadium to make the historic wooden structure an attractive destination to local and other events for the next 30-50 years.

“The city plans to use this new grant as a launching point to seek private donations and other large private foundations to tackle every item on the list,” said Shay. “We are currently waiting to find out how we ranked on a $350,000 grant from the (state) Recreation and Conservation Office for the stadium.”

The city “got the ball rolling” for stadium improvements in 2017 with a $5,000 Grays Harbor Community Foundation grant, said Shay, “to start prioritizing the preservation needs at the stadium.” The city received private foundation grants, including a $2,000 Valerie Sivinski Trust grant in April 2020 and $5,000 from the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Washington in May 2020.

“As with all large Hoquiam capital projects, we piece together state, federal and private funding whenever possible because we have such limited resources at the city and want to maximize the public services we can provide the citizens in our community,” said Shay.

Anyone interested in learning more or wishing to make a private donation to fund the project is encouraged to contact Community Services Coordinator Tracy Wood at twood@cityofhoquiam.com/360-538-3970 or Shay at bshay@cityofhoquiam.com/360-538-3983.

In the city statement, Winkelman acknowledged the partnership between the city and Commerce through its New Horizons pilot project. Hoquiam was one of three cities in the state chosen for the pilot, which helps cities determine their top priorities and matches those with Commerce programs and funding sources.

The city received a $45,000 Commerce grant earlier this year, which will be used for a study on downtown revitalization and continued work at Olympic Stadium. Finalization of that plan, which will involve a group of architects and urban designers — including the founder of Seabrook — and with feedback from local stakeholders is scheduled for June 1, 2021.