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Memorial stadium seattle rebuild

Seafair parade floats line up in Memorial Stadium, 1960. Photo from Seattle Municipal Archives.

SPS’ Memorial Stadium rebuild moving forward

New stadium to serve broader range of student and community interests

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and the City of Seattle have joined forces to rebuild Seattle Center’s Memorial Stadium into an innovative, multi-purpose sports, educational and entertainment venue. The new stadium, which will replace the 76-year-old building, will be primarily aimed at serving the interests of a diversity of students. The facility will be designed to be more integrated and open to the Seattle Center campus and connected with its many arts and cultural events.

Memorial Stadium Seattle Rebuild

Photo courtesy Seattle Center

Next step: Investors and designers

Currently SPS and the City are accepting proposals from potential private partners to invest in, design, build, operate, maintain and manage the new stadium, which is owned by the school district. By hiring private partners, Seattle Schools maintains ownership but spreads the costs to maintain and operate the facility. 

District officials say including private investors in the project means the site will be able engage the interested of far more to students than if the district developed the project alone. The new facility will be able to supprt a full range sporting and other events for schools throughout the distict. 

Benefits to students and community

But the building will benefit the broader community as wel. The multi-use stadium will support a broader range of cultural events and create new open spaces at Seattle Center.

“Memorial Stadium has historical, experiential and emotional resonance for Seattle Public Schools,” SPS Superintendent Brent Jones said in a release. “An enhanced stadium would allow the district to provide students with a modern facility for cultural performances, athletic events, commencement ceremonies, and social and educational opportunities.” Jones pointed out that Memorial Wall, located at the current stadium, honors 800 Seattle Schools alumni who lost their lives in World War II.

Memorial Stadium Seattle Rebuild

Stadium circa 1974. Photo courtesy Seattle Public Schools

A historic stadium reimagined

The City of Seattled deeded the stadium to Seattle Public Schools in 1946. Revenues from Thanksgiving Day football games played in the stadium from 1947-1949 paid for the Memorial Wall, designed by Garfield High School student Marianne Hanson. 

Over its 76-year history, Memorial Stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies for the Seattle World’s Fair and thousands of concerts and community events. Today, Memorial Stadium is used for numerous school events annually.

Project supported by sistrict, city and Governor

So far, $87 million has been committed to the project. Seattle Voters approved $66.5 million for the stadium as part of last year’s SPS capital levy. The City of Seattle has dedicated $21 to the project, but the Seattle City Council has expressed its intent to locate another $19 million for the new stadium by 2026. And, Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed $4 million in the state’s capital budget which is subject to State Legislature approval this session. The session ends April 23.

The City’s agreement with Seattle Schools creates a rare opportunity to build a first-class venue prioritizing public schools, right in the cultural heart of the city. The rebuilt stadium will host numerous athletic, academic, cultural, and community events which will benefit the entire city for generations to come. The public-private partnership includes substantial private investment which will ensure a fiscally prudent approach for taxpayers. This project has been a long time coming,” said Seattle City Council President Debora Juarez in a release.

Addressing a craving

Seattle Public Schools Board Director Vivian Song-Maritz added: “Community, connections, and opportunities for play and the display of student excellence – these are the things our students and families crave. Meeting these needs directly contributes to the success of Seattle’s students and the vibrance of our city,” said Seattle Public Schools Board Director Vivian Song-Maritz. “ 

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