Aging Toyota Center to see new improvements Americans fans will appreciate
KENNEWICK, Wash. – The Toyota Center has been the home of the Tri-City Americans for three decades, but fans can expect the aging facility to soon get a face lift.
"When people come in you want them to say ‘Wow, this is fun, this is great,’” said Bob Tory, Americans general manager. “It's not just a hockey game, it's a whole experience."
Since voters said no to the Link Project, Three Rives Campus Executive Director Corey Pearson said they’ll work with what they have.
The project plans include new LED light system, a new ice plant, and a video display scoreboard.
"It really is a way for the building to step up and become a little more 21st century," Pearson said.
The color changing LED lights will put on a better show.
"Not only are LED lights cost effective, which will save the City of Kennewick a lot of money but it also allows us to do a better game show,” Tory said. “Plus, it makes the rink brighter for television broadcasts of our games."
The outdoor ice plant will be safer since it won’t use ammonia and Pearson said it will be more reliable too.
“Not many people see that, but if there’s no ice, then it’s a bad hockey game,” Pearson said.
The video display will enhance the fan experience.
"We can have giveaways, dance for dinner, and kiss cam and all these fun things," Tory said. "We have to realize that what might seem expensive today is really expensive tomorrow."
By updating the 30-year-old complex, the Americans general manager hopes to keep future generations here at home.
"We have young kids in the Tri-Cities and we want them to go to school graduate and come back here and make this their home,” Tory said. “Not leave for a job in Seattle or Portland."
The goal is for these improvements to give younger generations a sense of pride, Pearson said, but also to attract people from across the Pacific Northwest.
"Every person that's coming into town helps pay for our parks, our police, our fire, for our streets. They're all helping us keep our property tax low,” he said. “By bringing more people to town they're helping make our community better and we get to live here 365."
Additional improvements they are considering include:
- New seating with cup holders
- Updating the concessions
- Dressing rooms
"So, whether it’s a concert, the Broadway series, basketball you name it is something for everyone when they do come in the building," Pearson said. "That's our long-term goal to keep up and try to do for the Tri-Cities what Century Link and the Mariners Center have done for Seattle."
This is the first step forward for the rink, but project leaders said it helps the community more than anything.
These project proposals are pending and depend on city council's approval.
On Tuesday, Kennewick City Council is expected to approve a contract to design the new outdoor ice plant.
Kennewick city officials said the cost of the ice plant design is currently at $258,000.