Phase One of a feasibility study on a regional sports and aquatic center for Chelan and Douglas counties is complete. 

Stacie de Mestre is Director of Economic Development and Capital Projects for the Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority which commissioned the study. 

She says the consulting firm conducting the study, BerryDunn, identified specific public preferences for the complex in Phase One. 

"In the end, they came out and said that we definitely need an indoor competition size pool and that we need more rectangle fields as they call them, for soccer, rugby, la cross." 

de Mestre added that Phase One identified specific needs for diamond fields. "They also said that we have a lot of diamond fields, baseball and softball," de Mestre said. "But they're scattered, so hosting large events isn't really possible. And they also noted that the condition of them was not up to the standard needed to serve our community." 

Phase One included a survey of existing conditions for sports facilities in Chelan and Douglas counties, a market analysis, a study of demographics and public outreach to determine preferences. 

The study didn’t break down diamond fields based on whether they were softball or baseball, which the consulting firm will work to find out. 

Findings in Phase One also revealed a need for indoor sports fields because of the heavy presence of unhealthy smoke in the air, in what the consulting firm referred to as the area’s "fifth season." 

De Mestre said the firm received a lot of concern about unhealthy air in its public outreach and decided to get data from the local health department on its prevalence. 

The Phase One presentation noted there were 90+ Days during 2023 in the Wenatchee area when the Air Quality Index was over 100. The presentation noted NCAA standards call for consideration of removing sensitive athletes from outdoor venues when the Air Quality Index is above 100. 

Other findings in Phase One included: 

  • The Indoor facility should be in one location 
  • The indoor facility should support basketball and multipurpose courts, indoor sports turf fields for soccer, football, lacrosse, baseball, softball, etc, indoor walking track and additional gymnasium space for volleyball, with potential for multipurpose flooring. 
  • Maintenance of sports facilities could be improved (satisfaction with facilities is marginal). 
  • Fields should be lighted, especially where artificial turf is installed. 
  • Shade is an important consideration. 
  • Additional pickleball courts are desired. 
  • Additional parking is needed. 
  • The outdoor city pool in Wenatchee has been intermittently closed due to the pool’s aging infrastructure. The pool needs to be replaced within the next 10 years, and the preference is for a new indoor facility. 
  • An indoor aquatic facility is preferred by residents. An indoor facility that provides year-round swimming opportunities and avoids wildfire smoke-related issues is desired. A facility that can support both competitive and leisure swimming is also desired. 
  • There is a need for all youth and adults to have access to swimming lessons. It is of paramount concern to the community, which is surrounded by natural rivers and waterways. 

A final Phase One report will be posted at the Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority website. The presentation noted that there were 8,850 hits on the social pinpoint website where public input was being taken.

Phase Two of the study will determine what the regional sports center would look like, where it would be located and how it would be paid for. 

Ed Mestre said it would also determine the trickledown effect of the regional center; how many people it would bring into the area for hotels and restaurants. 

The final Phase Two report is expected in February or March. 

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Gallery Credit: Rik Mikals