Legislature approves Regional Sports Complex bill

Confluence Pkwy

April 18, 2023

Dear Friends and Neighbors

As you may know, several local stakeholders, including city officials, chamber representatives, county commissioners, port commissioners, and others have been meeting for several months to consider whether our communities should join forces to construct and operate a regional sports complex, including an aquatic center. The Wenatchee City Pool, originally built in 1965, has served us well for several decades but is now in need of multimillion-dollar repairs just to keep operating. With this old facility in need of significant repairs – and considering how much our region has grown since the city of Wenatchee first constructed its pool – it is prudent for local government partners to consider the best and most sustainable way to support our region for the next 50 years. A regional sports complex could support our growing communities with access to an indoor Olympic-sized pool and a variety of sports facilities, such as basketball courts, pickleball areas, and soccer fields.

Aquatic Center

With the cold winters in our region and poor air quality during summer wildfires, stakeholders have encouraged the idea of an indoor 50-meter pool. This asset could support year-round community lap swim, swim lessons, family swim, and senior water aerobics, and host several multi-day competitive swim meets throughout the year, bringing in hundreds of families and generating economic activity.

Study Committee and Senate Bill 5001

Community stakeholders met several times last fall and eventually formed a study committee of local leaders to carefully consider possibilities for a regional sports complex. The committee, led by East Wenatchee Mayor Jerrilea Crawford, continues its efforts to collect community input and consider possible facilities. Local governments in Chelan and Douglas counties have collectively contributed $300,000 to study the possibilities. Working closely with the Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority, the study committee recently selected the firm BerryDunn to seek input from the community and to study the project’s feasibility. For more information on the process, click Regional Sports Complex.

The stakeholders also decided to seek legislative authority to form a second public facilities district (PFD). Under this law, local governments can voluntarily join together to seek voter approval to construct and operate shared public facilities. Last December, I introduced Senate Bill 5001 to allow a region of our size to form a second PFD for the purposes of a regional sports complex. (Our first PFD resolved funding challenges with the Town Toyota Center). After success approval in five legislative committees over several months, Senate Bill 5001 was officially approved by the Legislature on April 13th. The bill 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, Special Olympics Washington, and Confluence Health. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk.


The Study Steering Committee will be collecting community input and considering all types of facilities for a regional sports complex, including possible indoor or outdoor sports courts and soccer fields. Before any facilities can be constructed, the local governments who choose to participate must first enter into an agreement to form a public facilities district. After a district is formed, facilities can only be constructed if approved by voters.

The timing is right for a regional solution

Many communities smaller than ours already have modern pool facilities and sports complexes. If partners in our two-county area could construct a shared facility, the result could be much better, more cost effective, equitable in ownership, and financially sustainable. If a public facilities district could operate the new facility, no individual local government would need to take on the responsibility itself. Better yet, if local jurisdictions supported the idea of a regional district operating the facilities, they could be utilized by all community members in the region without concerns over jurisdictional boundaries.

Such an arrangement would be more sustainable because the facilities would be supported by a broader tax base and be more equitable as no one set of taxpayers would be financially responsible for a facility often utilized by residents outside of their city or county borders. I envision an aquatic facility that could be used by residents of all ages and economic backgrounds for swim lessons, CPR classes, community lap swim, senior water aerobics, and family time. Local school districts and swimming organizations could also utilize the Olympic-sized pool for swim meets, drawing hundreds of children and their families to our area. An aquatic facility with sport fields – each capable of hosting a broad array of events – could be very beneficial for both quality of life and economic reasons.

SB 5001 Panel

Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz and East Wenatchee Mayor Jerrilea Crawford testified before the Senate Transportation Committee on January 30th in support of Senate Bill 5001. The bill also allows the PFD to support transportation and pedestrian improvements to its facilities.

Local stakeholders supported Senate Bill 5001

SB5001 Support Letter

I am grateful to the many local organizations that supported Senate Bill 5001, including 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, Confluence Health, and Special Olympics Washington. The bill was also supported by all of our 12th and 7th district legislators.

Significant economic development potential

One potential location for a regional sports complex would be within the “Wenatchi Landing” area – 283 acres of undeveloped land in Douglas County near the Odabashian Bridge. If 20 acres were designated for community aquatic and sporting facilities, these facilities would be easily accessible to the regional population, including through pedestrian routes, such as the loop trail. If constructed, the remaining 263 acres could soon attract hotels, restaurants, and retail shops. Considering this uniquely situated, undeveloped land along with our growing population, now is the time to explore ways to collaboratively maximize benefits for both community use and economic activity.

Wenatchi Landing

The Wenatchi Landing area in Douglas County near the Odabashian Bridge could provide 283 acres of economic opportunities, benefiting both Chelan and Douglas counties. A regional sports complex with plenty of parking could comprise approximately 20 acres but serve as key first facilities that could later attract hotels, restaurants, and retail shops. For more information on Wenatchi Landing, click here.

Frequently asked questions

I am grateful to so many local officials and community members who are discussing possibilities for our regional sports facilities. Here are answers to common questions:

Which local governments are currently supporting the project?

Local officials and stakeholders began discussing this idea last September. They have been actively participating in meetings each month since. A stakeholder study committee has been formed for continued review and analysis. Since the concept is in its early stages of discussion, with much due diligence still needed, none of the local governments involved have taken official positions to either support or oppose the idea as it is still being thoroughly discussed and analyzed.

What process is underway to study the project’s feasibility?

An extensive feasibility and economic study has begun to examine all aspects of this project, including aquatic options available in the region, community needs and demographics, revenue projections and operational costs, options for facilities, and community interest. The study’s funding partners include Chelan County, Douglas County, City of Wenatchee, City of East Wenatchee, Greater Wenatchee PFD, and the Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority. An 11-member Steering Committee, chaired by East Wenatchee Mayor Jerrilea Crawford, is hosting quarterly meetings that are open to the public. This is a very important analysis. No decisions are expected to be made until this study is completed and thoroughly discussed. The study committee recently selected the firm BerryDunn to seek input from the community regarding the project’s feasibility. For more information on the study committee process, click Regional Sports Complex.

If a project eventually moves forward, how would it be funded?

The passage of Sente Bill 5001 will allow our local governments to partner with each other to form a public facilities district (PFD) for the purposes of building an aquatic center and sports complex. My bill also allows the PFD to support transportation and pedestrian improvements related to the facilities. If signed into law by the governor, local governments can voluntarily decide to join together to form a PFD and then to seek a modest, voter-approved sales tax increase of up to two-tenths of 1% (0.2%). Local stakeholders are not considering a property tax vote to fund any facilities. The sales tax, since our communities receive many visitors each year who can help us pay for the facility, is the preferred voter-approved funding method. The annual sales tax revenue would be used to issue bonds to construct and operate the facilities.

Leg Bldg

The Washington State Legislature is scheduled to complete its 105-day session on April 23. Among other things, this session includes passage of Senate Bill 5001 thanks to the help of many local supporters. The bill successfully advanced through five different committees and received a House vote and two Senate votes. It was one of the most challenging bills I have ever navigated through the process.


East Wenatchee Mayor Jerrilea Crawford and Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz visited with me in Olympia earlier this session and testified for Senate Bill 5001. For more information on the bill, click to read the bill history, bill summary, or full text.

Frequently asked questions

Who determines the facilities and can small cities opt out?

The next several months will involve extensive discussion, careful consideration, and community outreach. Eventually, if the local cities and counties choose to form a public facilities district, the PFD board would determine the size and scope of the project. My hope is that any “district” partners would include at least Chelan and Douglas counties and the cities of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee. Participation is a decision that resides within each local government itself (ex. city council, county commission, etc.). Yes, small cities can opt out. If a public facilities district is eventually formed, a five-member PFD board could be comprised of one member from each county along with board members from Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, and a smaller city (if smaller cities choose to participate). The board would then finalize the proposed facilities and seek voter approval. Ultimately, the voters of the district would have the final say in determining any facilities.

Is the YMCA planning a pool facility?

Yes, the YMCA is planning and hoping to construct aquatic facilities in their proposed 5th Street location at the current Chelan PUD site, although the status of the 5th Street redevelopment is still under consideration. The new YMCA could include a swimming pool, children’s pool, and splash zone, among other features. I am a big supporter of the YMCA, and I would be thrilled to see its proposed new building come to fruition. However, it is important to differentiate member-based facilities from public facilities and to consider the size of facilities along with the significant and growing needs within our two-county region, especially if the Wenatchee City Pool closes. I want all member-based facilities (YMCA, WRAC, Worx, Planet Fitness and others) to be successful, but public facilities that drive regional economic benefits are important and quite different than private facilities. 

Who would be allowed to access the regional sports complex?

Use of the facilities would be determined by the board members, appointed by their respective areas. My hope is for the two counties and major cities to join forces on these regional facilities so that costs are shared and taxpayer investments are maximized for efficiency. Furthermore, with a sustainable revenue stream, any facilities district could be free from the sometimes-costly administrative and accounting burden of collecting small, per-person user fees. With multiple jurisdictions participating, the facility could be utilized by all community members in the region without concerns over jurisdictional boundaries.


Many thanks to all the local stakeholders who participated in our regional sports complex meetings last fall. Community members offered significant expertise and excellent feedback during this process. This was a great start to the continuing community process. For more information, click Regional Sports Complex.

Grateful for your help and support

I hope this newsletter provides you helpful information and answers questions you may have. If Senate Bill 5001 is signed by the governor and becomes law, the remaining work will be directed by the 11-member study steering committee, chaired by Mayor Crawford with guidance from the Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority. While the study committee is thoughtfully considering this project, collecting important data, and gathering public input, I encourage you to join the conversation and share your ideas. Special thanks to our local mayors, Frank Kuntz and Jerrilea Crawford, who have provided me and others with key guidance in recent months.

I’d also like to thank the Chelan County and Douglas County commissioners who have been active participants in helping to pass Senate Bill 5001 to provide us a governance structure and financing tool, if our community ultimately decides to seek voter approval for a regional sports complex. The Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority and its staff have also been very helpful to begin studying this regional, economic development project. Lastly, I’d like to extend much gratitude to all of the local officials and community stakeholders who have participated in meetings so far or who have shared support for the legislative effort. This region belongs to us – the people – and we collectively are responsible for its health and success.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve

My position as state Senator exists to serve you. If you have any questions about issues, please contact me at senatorbradhawkins.org. Please follow me on Facebook @SenatorBradHawkins for my latest updates. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your state senator!



Brad Hawkins



State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District

Website: senatorbradhawkins.org

Facebook: @SenatorBradHawkins

203 Legislative Modular Building - P.O. Box 40412 | Olympia, WA 98504-0412
(360) 786-7622 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000