Politics & Government

Report: Tacoma Dome flower could be high maintenance

A Tacoma Dome wrapped in a brilliant flower designed by world-renowned artist Andy Warhol could still be a possibility.

But maintaining the petals’ striking hue would require twice-yearly cleanings of the Dome, according to a report to City Manager T.C. Broadnax.

A City Council committee will hear Tuesday how a vinyl test patch on the Dome fared exposed to five months of sun, wind and rain. The patch weathered well, the report says, with no tearing, peeling or flaking.

Darker colors, however, were “not as bold as they were at installation,” and dirt was more easily seen on the dark sections. The light sections also showed some fading. The decal’s seams were “very dirty,” according to the report.

“This is not surprising due to the exposure to the elements in this location, but presents a condition that could negatively impact appearance and presentation, regardless of the frequency of cleanings,” says the report by Kim Bedier, director of public assembly facilities for the city. The Tacoma Dome sits next to Interstate 5, a major north-south freeway.

The city doesn’t have the money to pay for the artwork, but the council might not mind if someone else pitches in.

The estimated cost of the vinyl wrap is about $2.1 million for installation and removal, which the city would require a donor to fund upfront so that taxpayers wouldn’t get stuck with the expense. Removal is expected to a labor-intensive process based on experience with the test patch, in which a two-foot-square section came off in about 10 pieces.

The city also needs to figure out how to pay for the frequent cleanings, about twice a year, that would be required to keep the Dome looking fresh. They would cost roughly $300,000 per year.

Still, the fading and dirt on the patch “presents a condition that could negatively impact appearance and presentation, regardless of the frequency of cleanings.” Workers cleaned the test patch by hand and did not try using a pressure washer or brushes, the report stated.

If completed, the flower would be the largest installation of Andy Warhol’s work in the world. Warhol submitted his brilliant yellow-and-orange design for a contest in 1982.

Over the weekend, Beautiful Angle, a local guerilla arts poster project, raised about $3,100 for the project.

The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation is poised to accept money raised for the project, but only if the council gives the go-ahead, said Rose Lincoln Hamilton, CEO and president of the foundation. She said she’s been in talks with the city. Maybe East Coast foundations would pitch in for the artwork, she said.

“How exciting would it be to have a Warhol?” she said. “What an entrance to our city, and everyone driving by to be able to see it. … It would be great to have it in Tacoma.”

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