Dome sweet dome: Tacoma Dome facelift gives new life to local icon

TACOMA, Wash. -- After a $31 million remodel, the Tacoma Dome reopened earlier this year with a bang. It’s the first major remodel for the world’s largest wooden domed stadium since it was built in 1983.

“Before you even get into the building, you’ll see the exterior upgrades”, says Kim Bedier, director of Tacoma Venues and Events. “We have this beautiful wood product cladding all around. Better lighting at the door, safety rails, so it’s all around a better experience from the minute you get here.”

Inside, if you’ve been to an event at the Dome this year— whether it’s KISS or the recent Holiday Food and Gift Show -- you have seen the difference. The grandstand bleachers are gone. All of the seating has been upgraded with more legroom.

They’ve added more concessions, dozens of new food and drink options - and three times more restrooms.

“We have taken care of the lower level,” Bedier says. “Lots of restrooms for both females and males. We greatly increased the number of female restrooms spaces. We still need to work on the upper concourses, so be patient with us. We need to gather another chunk of money to be able to do that.”

Rick Matthews has been a Tacoma Dome regular for 37 years. He runs the Tacoma Holiday Food and Gift show, which was the first major event the Tacoma Dome ever hosted back in 1983.

“With the new improvements, especially for the freight doors, the move-in and move-out of the vendors -- it’s been a really good experience," Matthews says. “We just love this place.”

The project is gaining international attention as well. The Tacoma Dome project was awarded the top prize for innovation by the International Association of Venue Managers.

“We know that she’s an icon,” Bedier says. “We know that she’s the heart of our community, and everybody on our team is super passionate to make her the best that she can be”.