Discussion continues on Warhol Tacoma Dome roof plan

A Tacoma City Council committee will be briefed next week on a plan to cover the Tacoma Dome roof with art designed by iconic pop artist Andy Warhol.

The project dates back to 1982, when the Tacoma Dome was under construction and the City of Tacoma invited artists to submit proposals for a public art installation at the iconic arena, which billed itself as one of the largest wood-domed structures in the world. Warhol submitted a proposal that called for painting a bright flower over the exterior of the dome’s roof. Although Warhol’s work was not selected, members of Tacoma’s arts community have recently advocated for the project. The City has reached out to the Warhol Foundation to discuss use of the Warhol image, but formal permission has not been obtained, according to City of Tacoma staff.

Meanwhile, the City of Tacoma recently commissioned a study to determine the overall value the Tacoma Dome represents to prospective corporate sponsors. According to the study, which was completed by Bonham/Wills & Associates, the Tacoma Dome could draw between $450,000 and $670,000 annually for corporate naming rights over a 10-year period. The study also cautioned the City of Tacoma against installing Warhol’s rooftop art in order to preserve a “blank canvas” for a corporate sponsor to advertise its brand.

On Tuesday, Tacoma City Council’s Economic Development Committee will be updated on the issue. According to a report prepared by City of Tacoma Public Assembly Facilities Director Kim Bedier in advance of the meeting, items of discussion include:

TESTS – The Warhol flower would be digitally printed onto an adhesive film and applied to the roof. It is unknown what impact (if any) this technique would have on the surface of the roof. Rainier Industries, a local company that specializes in large-sized environmental graphics, submitted a proposal to apply its adhesive film on a small section of the roof during a six-month period — and under a variety of weather conditions — in order to determine the effects. The cost to design, install, and conduct the test is estimated at $900, which could be covered through the Tacoma Dome’s operations budget;

COSTS – Design and installation for Warhol’s flower could cost between $2.16 million and $2.19 million, with a three-year warranty on the proposed material. The roof would need to be cleaned annually at a cost of $150,000. Costs to maintain the public art, as well as future removal of the adhesive material, are unknown. The costs to install, clean, and maintain the public art would not come from City coffers but, rather, through private fundraising;

SPONSORSHIP – While the six-month test is conducted, City of Tacoma staff could still pursue naming rights and corporate sponsorships for the Tacoma Dome.

Tacoma City Council’s Economic Development Committee will be briefed on the plan during a public meeting on Tues., April 22, at 10 a.m. at the Tacoma Municipal Building, 747 Market St., Room 248, in downtown Tacoma. Copies of the agenda and meeting materials are available online here.

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To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of public art in Tacoma and Pierce County, click on the following links:

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index and recipient of an award for Outstanding Achievement in Media from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for his work covering historic preservation in Tacoma and Pierce County. He has earned four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengerssecond-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State; third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; and third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright. His work has appeared in All About Jazz, City Arts Tacoma, Earshot Jazz, Homeland Security Today, Jazz Steps, Journal of the San Juans, Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace Enterprise, Prison Legal News, Rain Taxi, Real Change, Seattle Business Monthly, Seattle magazine, Tablet, Washington CEO, Washington Law & Politics, and Washington Free Press. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications. His journalism is collected online at wahmee.com.