The Tacoma Dome's renovation is coming soon: 'She need some TLC, and she's going to get it'

TACOMA, Wash. - In April 1983, David Bowie performed the first show ever at the Tacoma Dome.

And now - almost 35 years and thousands of events later - the old dome is getting a much-needed makeover.

"In building years or dog years, that's like 180 years old," said Kim Bedier, the Tacoma Dome's director of venues and events. "But she's well into her 30s and much deserving of a face-lift, we're excited that the city of Tacoma is committed to making sure that she stands proud for decades to come.”

It will be a $31 million  face-lift. the benches are going away, replaced with state-of-the-art retractable seats. They’re adding restrooms and security, and developing what they call the artist’s quarters. They're also enhancing the dressing rooms, stage and performance area.

The Tacoma Dome hosts about 75-100 events a year, and officials see that number increasing.

"With the new amenities, and things happening in the region, with the arena in Seattle closing for a couple years, just as we are reopening this fall from our renovations," Bedier said.

That sounds like a challenge to Seattle’s $560 million arena plan.

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“I think competition is everywhere," said Steve Mattson, the Oakview Group's director of operations. "Whether it’s indoor, outdoor, the market is so full of options.

"I think we can design one where the market is finally rewarded with a venue they deserve."

Bedier thinks the two can coexist just fine.

"In a few years, they will have a couple of tenants, and we will not," she said. "We consider music and events our anchor tenant and we will still have room on our schedule for the events that they can’t accommodate, so I think we will be competitors, but very good partners for events and entertainment for the whole region."

One thing that will not change is the iconic dome.

"It's actually one of the largest wooden dome structures in the world, and certainly it is one of the last standing dome structures in north america," Bedier said. "There aren't many of the old girls left anymore and she need some TLC. She's going to get it this year, and she is going to be part of the Tacoma skyline for years to come.

"It is really tied to the psyche of Tacoma so the quarter of a million people who drive by on I-5 every day they, probably think of the Tacoma Dome. And I think what Tacoma does is it honors it's past and it's history while looking ahead to the future."