When I first arrived in Wenatchee, The Town Toyota Center was the talk of the town. And that talk wasn’t good.
First, let’s acknowledge that was 2010, during the heart of the Great Recession, and things were a varying degree of bad everywhere. Two years prior, just as that devastating recession was getting started, Wenatchee’s brand-new arena had opened.
Yes, the timing for the opening of the Town Toyota Center couldn’t have been much worse.
But the even bigger issue involved the false dreams under which the arena had been sold to the community. Out-of-town promoters said it would be a money-making facility, and reports showing it wouldn’t be, were ignored or dismissed.
The whole thing had a bit of a “Music Man” feel to it, where a big-talking outsider comes to town and uses enthusiasm and unrealistic pie-in-the-sky scenarios to sell the town folk on a bad and expensive idea.
Thus, with the recession and false assumptions it was a doubly bad beginning for Wenatchee’s arena.
By 2010, it has become apparent the arena needed far more public financial support than it was getting. The bonds sold to build the center were in danger of going into default and the city of Wenatchee faced the very real prospect of bankruptcy. The city was cutting projects and services to cover the debts of the arena and there appeared no easy way out of that mess.
Fortunately, the region stepped up and approved an increase in the sales tax that headed off financial calamity for Wenatchee and gave the Town Toyota Center a real shot at success. That little sentence there is a tremendously simplified version of how that mess was resolved, but telling the entire story would be exhausting.
Regardless, all that is now behind us.
In recent years, the facility has had mostly positive buzz. It is, at its core, a place to do a wide variety of interesting things.
The Wenatchee World, working with the professional staff at the TTC, puts on two events each year; the Wenatchee Wine and Food Festival and Wen-Con, a popular culture convention.
The wine and food event began at a smaller venue but soon proved too popular for most of the available spaces in town. Without the availability of the Town Toyota Center that event’s growth would have been limited. Instead, it continues to build in popularity each year and the facility is easily able to handle that growth.
Wen-Con in its first year drew almost 2,000 people. We weren’t sure how popular it would be initially but having it at the Town Toyota Center was certainly the right decision.
And our events are just two of dozens held at the TTC throughout the year. The arena serves all of us well.
Therefore, it should be with a united voice that we wish the Town Toyota Center a happy 10th birthday.