EVERETT – The City Council on Wednesday is scheduled to consider paying a consultant $344,000 to help manage construction of a new $80 million AquaSox stadium that could be built as soon as 2025.
City staff is seeking a professional services agreement with Shiels Obletz Johnsen, Inc., a Seattle-based project-management firm that spearheaded projects such as Lumen Field and ShoWare Center, saying the work was “beyond the scope of current city staffing,” according to city documents.
In 2022, the City Council agreed to study the feasibility of a new stadium and in July approved an initial $55,000 contract with Shiels Obletz Johnsen. However, this month, the firm asked for a new contract, claiming project expenses will “certainly exceed” that amount.
If the contract is approved, the firm will conduct a state environmental impact evaluation of all site alternatives.
At last week’s council meeting, several council members spoke in favor of keeping the AquaSox in Everett, but some expressed concerns over the price tag.
“I’m not convinced the marginal economic impact will pencil out in a way that’s favorable to taxpayers,” said council member Brenda Stonecipher, who wanted to see funding options before committing to investing more resources in the project.
Dan Eernissee, the city’s economic development director, said funding options will be presented to the council within the next few months, before a site is selected. The project likely will be funded by a mix of state, county and city funds, as well as money from the AquaSox owners and other private and public entities, he said.
During last week’s council meeting, Chad Volpe, who co-owns the AquaSox with his father, Tom, said they are “fully committed” to keeping the team in Everett.
“We’re willing to commit … the equivalent of, depending on our range and how our payments are structured, between 20 and 30 years of profits into this project up front. More than we have made in profit since we acquired this team,” Volpe said. “We are ready to commit to this project to show our seriousness and make sure it gets done.” Volpe did not provide an exact figure.
When Major League Baseball took over the minor league teams in 2020, they mandated that stadiums meet a long list of minimum standards on everything from dugouts, to restrooms to the playing field.
Following MLB’s takeover, several minor league teams left their home cities in search of stadiums able to meet the new standards. The AquaSox haven’t considered that route, Volpe said.
The AquaSox will face a “six-figure fee” from MLB for the 2024 season for playing in a stadium that isn’t up to par, but Volpe said they’re willing to take that loss in order to stay in Everett.
In March, the state allocated funds to 11 cities to help pay for upgrades. Everett received the largest sum, $7.4 million, because it required a significant stadium update or replacement to meet the new standards.
Availability of state funds depends on “contracting processes with the state,” but is expected to be spent between 2023 and 2025, according to Jennifer Gregerson, Everett’s director of government affairs. Until then, the city will fund the project through Fund 145, the city’s property acquisition fund.
• Southeast corner of Pacific Avenue and Smith Street in Everett.
• Public Works facility: South side of Pacific Avenue east of Hill Avenue.
• Everett Mall.
• Kasch Park, 8811 Airport Road.
• Current Funko Field.
Construction of the stadium is projected between 2025 and early 2027, according to city documents.
Phase One: (2023 to 2024):
• Evaluate sites and conduct State Environmental Policy Act review.
• Conduct economic impact and market feasibility studies.
• Select a site.
• Confirm funding for site assembly and construction and identify funding for operation and maintenance.
Phase Two (2024 to 2025):
• Acquire site property.
• Negotiate contracts with designers, developers and contractors.
• Negotiate the AquaSox lease.
• Negotiate with private and public parties to ensure funding (sponsors, naming rights, etc.).
• Design stadium.
Phase Three (2025 to early 2027):
• Prepare stadium for AquaSox 2027 season.