2015: A look ahead as Elvis gets a stamp, ports marry, the Seahawks repeat, and Justin Bieber grows up

It’s the Chinese Year of the Sheep (or the Ram, or the Goat, depending on who’s talking.)

It’s about to become the Year of Alliance between the ports of Tacoma and Seattle; the Year of New Hotels, maybe, in Tacoma; and the Year of Golf, certainly, in University Place.

Happy New Year, everyone.

2015 is sure to be One of Those Years.


Look for an agreement, finally, between the Pacific Maritime Association and the Longshore Union. They’ve been negotiating, and not negotiating, for several months.

A slowdown at the Port of Tacoma, begun in October, lingers on, stranding merchandise ranging from Asia-bound Christmas trees to Almond Roca.

Speaking of which, look for the Tacoma candymaker to debut Roca Thins in 2015.

And speaking of ports, Tacoma and Seattle will be putting shoulders to their recently announced same-port marriage.

Also at the port, the international consortium Northwest Innovation Works will move forward with its $1.8 billion methanol plant at the site of a former aluminum plant. Puget Sound Energy begins construction of a $275 million natural gas liquefication plant to serve trucks, trains and TOTE ships.


Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Neil Young and Tom Selleck will turn 70. So does reverse-mortgage pitchman and former Fonz, Henry Winkler.

Dr. John, Tom Jones, Ringo Starr and Alex Trebek will turn 75. So too Peter Fonda and Raquel Welch.

Disneyland and Kevin Costner will turn 60. Bill Murray and David Cassidy will hit 65. Johnny Mathis and the board game Monopoly will turn 80.


The Tacoma Dome will see “a breadth of programming we haven’t seen in a long time,” says its deputy director of Public Assembly Facilities, John Houg.

Look for Miranda Lambert, Maroon 5 and Gabriel Iglesias. Add the return of championship high school wrestling, gymnastics and football, plus gun shows, the Home and Garden Show and, as always, the Monster Trucks.

Houg also advises that we stay tuned for upcoming announcements concerning some major country acts.

In February, “America’s Got Talent” auditions will return to the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center. The Washington Onsite Sewage Association will arrive later this month.

Then there will be conferences concerning emergency preparedness, massage therapy, early childhood development, finance and veterinary science, among many others.

Also, the Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show will come back home in early June.

The Who, at least those among the Who who remain standing, will visit Seattle in September.

The Puyallup Valley Daffodil Festival will present its three-town annual parade on April 11, and the Washington State Fair (yes, Keith Urban will sing and play) will run from Sept. 11-27.


The Legislature must grapple with court-ordered funding mandates ruled by the Washington State Supreme Court, which said lawmakers are in contempt for not coming up with a plan to fund basic education.

Waters are further muddied in that voters have ordered that the Legislature do something to reduce class size.

In the spring, Washington students will face their first round of new tests based on the Common Core standards.

And if that’s not challenging enough, 2015 will be the year that independently operated charter schools (SOAR Academy for K-8, Green Dot Middle School and Summit Olympus High School) open in Tacoma.


At Point Ruston, the billion-dollar mixed-use development on the site of the former Asarco smelter, look for a nine-screen movie theater to open before summer. Then there will be a new spate of condominia, plus apartments, a parking garage and a grocery.

Hollander Investments of Bellingham, owner of the Courtyard by Marriott operation downtown, might decide early this year whether to proceed with a 104-room Marriott on the Foss Waterway.

The courts have sided with Hollander in disputes with the owner of Hotel Murano, but what with the McMenamins project, a new high-rise hotel adjacent to the convention center proposed by Chinese investors and a Silver Cloud hotel proposed at Point Ruston, the climate for expansion might have changed.

McMenamins, by the way, continues its work on the Anderson School in Bothell, a project that took precedence over the Tacoma Elks renovation. The Portland-based brewpub-hotelier plans to finish in Bothell by the autumn and then turn its attention back to Tacoma.

The state Department of Transportation is expected to receive approval from the Federal Railway Administration to complete planning for a new Amtrak station for Tacoma within the footprint of Freighthouse Square.

The new station — and a new route for passenger trains that will eliminate a trip along Commencement Bay, the Tacoma Narrows and South Puget Sound in favor of a non-waterfront trip through South Tacoma and Lakewood — might debut in 2017.

MultiCare will implement the first year of its three-year, $300 million cost-cutting plan under a new CEO. CHI Franciscan’s new CEO takes his chair in February.

Renovation of the former Browne’s Star Grill building will wrap up this year in Tacoma’s Central District, and new residents, and a restaurant, will take occupancy. Construction will continue on an apartment/retail complex in the Proctor District.

The combined University of Washington Tacoma student center and YMCA will open downtown.


Gov. Jay Inslee has suggested a charge on large sources of carbon dioxide emissions that would raise more than $1 billion a year for schools, roads and more while putting the state on track to meet targets for reducing the state’s contribution to climate change.

(Speaking of climate change, the Old Farmer’s Almanac calls for a mild, dry winter and a hot, dry summer.)

The biggest debate in Olympia is likely to center on the funding of education (see above). Republicans don’t want to raise taxes, and Democrat Inslee says no new taxes would mean horrible cuts to other programs.

Democrats control the House, and Republicans control the Senate, both just barely. If you like your glass half full, expect compromise. If you like it half empty, expect nothing but wrangles and tangles.

The Legislature also will consider raising taxes to fund highway projects, including the extension of state Route 167 to the Port of Tacoma.

Then there’s a probable rethink of the marijuana question, which basically asks about the viability of keeping medicinal pot legal when the state needs tax revenue from recreational sales.

Lawmakers also will discuss sentencing for low-level offenders who are keeping expensive prison cells occupied.

In Tacoma, the City Council could pass a paid sick leave measure later this month. In November, voters might decide whether they want to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Also, there likely will be a serious conversation concerning the future of the Click network.

Also in the City of Daffodils, expect a long-awaited hearing in March concerning the SchnitzerWest/Van Lierop land dispute.


What do the following have in common? “Cinderella,” “Star Wars,” “Hot Tub Time Machine,” “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” “Mad Max,” “The Avengers,” “Ted,” “Terminator,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Hunger Games” and “Frankenstein.”

One: They are all getting sequels. Two: They will premiere in 2015.

In an interesting aside: Guess who plays Igor the Hunchback in “Frankenstein”? It’s Daniel Radcliffe, a recent graduate of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

On TV, David Letterman will retire in May. Stephen Colbert will return. So will “Downton Abbey.”

“Glee,” “Parenthood,” “Parks & Recreation” and “Two and a Half Men” go away.


Northwest Sinfonietta will see the departure of co-founder and 24-year director Christophe Chagnard and the beginning of a new model of team directorship and musician-led planning.

Broadway Center will bring in Jake Shimabukuro, David Sedaris and Tacoma’s own Vicci Martinez, among others.

Tacoma City Ballet will present “Cinderella” at the Pantages in May, its first full story-ballet production in years.

Spaceworks will turn 5.

In March, the Museum of Glass will present a 35-year survey of drawings by Tacoma native Dale Chihuly. In February, Raft Island artist Lynda Lowe will host the conclusion of her yearlong Patra Passage bowl project.

Tacoma Art Museum will mount “Elegant Objects: Georgia O’Keeffe and Still-Life Art in New Mexico” come March, through early June. The museum also will continue its premier presentation of Western art donated by the Erivan Haub family.

“Living in the Shadows,” a broad look at the state’s major volcanoes, will open later this month at the Washington State History Museum.

The Washington State Ski and Snowboard Museum will open this spring at Snoqualmie Pass.


The Tacoma Rainiers will open on the road against the El Paso on April 9 and at home on April 17, again against the Chihuahuas.

After guiding the University of Washington Huskies football squad to an 8-5 regular season record in his first season as coach, Chris Petersen will open the 2015 season with a trip to Boise State, Petersen’s employer from 2000-13.

The Dawgs will end their 2014 season Friday in a Cactus Bowl matchup against Oklahoma State in Tempe, Ariz.

The Husky men’s basketballers will join the march toward March with an 11-0 start (yes, they did lose against the Stony Brook Seawolves recently, but consider than an anomaly).

Still without an MLS Cup, the Sounders will open their seventh season. Major League Soccer will open its 20th season with 20 teams, having added Orlando and New York to the pitch.

The Mariners will seek to build on the momentum of last season with the added bat of Nelson Cruz. It’s been since 2001 that the M’s have played in the off-season, a record second only to the hapless Toronto Blue Jays.

University Place will welcome the U.S. Open (and a few hundred thousand golfers, fans and media types) in June.

However much fun it would have been to play the XLIXers, the Seahawks will beat the New England Patriots in the 49th annual Super Bowl on Feb. 1 by a score of 23-6.


How deep will the cuts be at Joint Base Lewis-McChord now that we have finished fighting our most recent wars?

The Army is developing plans to shed at least 60,000 soldiers from active duty by 2019. That drawdown is sure to reverberate at JBLM, home to 27,000 active duty personnel.

In a worst-case scenario, the Army would cut about 11,000 more positions for soldiers locally, this beyond the 5,000 already eliminated in an earlier round of force reductions.

This would leave JBLM with fewer active-duty soldiers than were on base before the 2003 Iraq War.

Army units are preparing for a year of exercises along the Pacific Rim, with a marquee exercise in Australia for I Corps and the 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command.

The Air Force 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings anticipate assignments delivering troops and supplies to distant destinations including Antarctica, Liberia and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, 9,000 military service members are expected to retire or otherwise separate from the Armed Forces hereabouts in 2015, and base officials likely will continue their recent emphasis on preparing troops for civilian careers.


The Pierce Transit board is expected to select a new chief executive officer in the spring. Derek Young, a Gig Harbor Democrat, will begin his term in January on the Pierce County Council, thus reducing a Republican majority.

Fife and Puyallup will welcome new city managers; City Attorney Kevin Yamamoto is taking the reins in Puyallup, while the Fife position is TBD.

Along with all that, there’s the 2016 presidential race. Look for appearances by contenders at barbeques in Iowa and syrup festivals in New Hampshire.


B.B. King and Dick Van Dyke will hit 90, and Sean Lennon, 40. Don Rickles will turn 89 and Kirk Douglas 99. Justin Bieber, God help us, will become a chronological adult at 21.

The Magna Carta will turn 800 and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” will hit 100, there in the room where women come and go, talking of Michelangelo.

The first indoor bowling alley was constructed 175 years ago, and the United Nations will celebrate its Diamond Anniversary.

World War II and the Civil War ended seven and 15 decades ago, respectively, both occurring in years that saw the sitting president die. A hundred years ago, World War I still raged.


The U.S. Mint will mint a set of commemorative coins honoring the U.S. Marshals Service.

Elvis, Johnny Carson, Ingrid Bergman and Steve Jobs will get postage stamps.

Speaking of sequels, Boeing will move forward with the design of the 737 Max and the 777X, both updates of previous designs.

You’ll be hearing about what we’ve learned in the 10 years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and how much we’ve changed (for the better, the worse or not at all) since the first atom bomb fell 70 years ago.

It’s time to bid farewell to the go-karts (just as we bid farewell to Funland decades ago) at Point Defiance.

But sumner will see the opening of a new YMCA.

And as if all of that wasn’t enough, Chick-fil-A will open in Tacoma.

Staff writers Craig Hill, Adam Ashton, Jordan Schrader, Debbie Cafazzo, John Gillie, Jonathan Nesvig, Mary Anderson, Rosemary Ponnekanti, Kari Plog, Kate Martin, Kathleen Cooper, Bob Dutton, Liz Wishaw, Steve Maynard, Christian Caple, Don Ruiz, and Cheryl Tucker contributed to this report.

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