Casino had no impact on Air Force tanker decision

From Daniel Walters at the comes this report:

Some continued to speculate about encroachment issues. “It would be very helpful to know whether the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino figured in the decision, if only to put the issue to rest for good,” the Spokesman-Review wrote in an editorial last week.

The answer is: No, the casino didn’t come into play.

“The proposed multi-use facility near Fairchild AFB was not considered in the decision process,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek says in a statement. While the Air Force assessed existing encroachment at Fairchild — like the mobile home park in the base’s crash zone — it was never a “key finding or a major consideration.” In fact, in the initial criteria used to select candidates for the tankers, encroachment was worth only a measly two points out of 100.

via Flight Diverted.

The Inlander provides journalism you will not find anywhere else in Spokane. Check them out.

The casino and encroachment argument  appears to have been about reducing competition for the Northern Quest Casino and the Downtown Business Partnership, as many suggested. Go here and page down to “The Proposed Spokane Tribe Casino, Hotel and Convention Facility” to better understand how the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino is a competitive threat to NQC and downtown Spokane.

McConnell, Altus AFB and Pease ANG Base selected for new KC-46A tanker roles

Fairchild loses bid to host new tankers – – May 22, 2013.

Fairchild lost out to McConnell AFB in Kansas, Altus AFB in Oklahoma, and Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire (in 2018) according to the Kansas news reports. Three of the four bases were selected for tankers and/or training facilities, with Spokane’s Fairchild and North Dakota’s AFB as the only bases receiving no part of the KC-46A program at this time.

Update: US Air Force press release. Says McConnell had the lowest construction costs for deploying the new tankers. And also the best geographic location for the mission.

(Pease AFB was closed in 1991 and now houses an air guard refueling unit. After the USAF closed there, the State proposed building a casino on the site.)

Depending on future funding, additional tanker bases, including Fairchild AFB, could be selected in the years to come.

The proposed Airway Heights casino is not mentioned in any of the news reports as having anything to do with site selection (USAF will explain their decision later).  Is the casino a factor? Consider that the Las Vegas McCarran Field airport is the 8th busiest airport in the world in terms of take offs and landings and sits immediately adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip, the largest concentration of casinos in the world.  That did not stop Las Vegas from expanding either the airport or casinos.

Per the next post below, Spokane area aviation has been in a descent since its peak year of 1993.

1993 is also the year that Rich Hadley was hired as CEO of the local Chamber of Commerce, which later merged with the local economic development agency and became Greater Spokane, Inc.

In the early 1990s, the city was concerned about losing retail business in the downtown core, businesses moving out of the area, and there were fears about the possible closure of Fairchild AFB.  Nothing’s changed in 20 years. Except that aviation operations have plummeted and wages have fallen further behind over time (see how average wages lag the state and nation and see this chart of average wages).

Surely it is purely coincidental, but the aviation numbers have been in decline ever since Hadley was hired. With this spectacular flame out, perhaps it is time for Hadley to retire and for the agency to seek new blood with a 21st century mindset with fresh, new ideas, and not just more of the same that has not worked out so well. (Well said).

Looks like Fairchild AFB will not be “encroached” by KC-46As!

And what ever happened to the 737MAX Assembly plant “formal bid” that was to be in Spokane?

Spokane Airport and Felts Field Airport Operations over Time

Read below to learn about a whopper lie being told by local politicians and local media about our local airports …

Historical Passengers Trend at Spokane Airport


Data is from the FAA. 2013 is estimated based on the January-March passenger volume.

Expectation is that SIA will see an increase in passengers this year. Allegiant Air introduced a weekly flight to Hawaii early this year, but shortly after announced that August might be the last flight for the new service, at least for this year. Delta accepted a $1 million mostly taxpayer funded subsidy to provide once per day service to Los Angeles, flying a 79 seat plane starting in June. The new flight will add to the monthly passenger totals for SIA. (Non-subsidized service on this route was ended in 2004 and ended again in 2008.)

Felts Field Historical Air Operations Trend

Felts Field seems to have turned a corner and may have reversed its long term flight operations decline although the data suggests this could be a shift of general aviation operations from SIA to Felts.


Combined Spokane + Felts Field Airports Operations

In April, Spokane Airports sued the FAA over a proposed closure of the Felts Field Air Traffic Control Tower (closure since rescinded). Spokane Airports argued that SIA and Felts Field are a combined operation, listing a combined flight total for both.

Since Spokane Airports views SIA and Felts as a combined operation here is a chart of the combination showing  all flight operations at the two airports – air carrier, air taxi, general aviation and military – keep your eye on the orange section of the chart:


Data is from the FAA and the US Bureau of Transportation  Statistics. Year 2013 flight operations is estimated from Jan-Mar 2013 totals. Does not include Fairchild AFB.

  • Aviation operations have been declining for nearly a quarter of a century – since 1993.
  • Combined air operations have declined by 43% since 1993.
  • And SIA passenger levels are less than they were in 1996.

And this is reported as “continued growth!”…

How did local leaders and news report this decline?

By telling outright lies:

Air traffic and air travel to and from Spokane is in decline and local promoters call this” CONTINUED GROWTH”?

Everything about this is embarrassing for Spokane – the decline itself, lying about the decline, covering it up, and the inability of local media to fact check anything.

More on this lack of ethical behavior on another day.

Why look at passenger and general aviation flight totals?

Passenger counts at isolated airports have historically been used as a proxy for local economic activity. All other Pacific NW airports have seen increases in passenger usage (except Boise). By the numbers (and not wishful fantasy) this suggests Spokane’s economy is weak – certainly not where it could be.

General aviation is used for personal flights, flight training, business flights and other functions including air ambulances and more. Because general aviation flight may be expensive, it too may act as a proxy for local economic strength. However, there are other factors that influence general aviation flight activity and this may not be a reliable indicator.

Spokane Employment and Unemployment Update

The State’s latest employment figures show good gains this past month, with most of the growth within the “services” category and suggest Spokane is starting to climb out of its five year long jobs drought.

My interest is in the year-over-year growth figures and April shows good numbers.


It will take several more years before reaching the level of jobs present in 2007-2008. During this five year jobs drought, the population has increased which also means that labor force participation remains lower than previous levels.




2013 Spokane Bloomsday Run Statistics – Final Numbers

Final Results – Bloomsday Historical Trend in Participation

2013 “Finished” came in at 47,165. My estimate was 46,930 which is within 1/2% of the final number. I did not update the chart since 1/2% would be the width of the line! KHQ TV’s estimate was 28% too high 🙂


The long term trend in Bloomsday participation is down

This chart shows participation from 1987 forward, with trend lines added. 1987 was selected as the start date as this is when the event reached maturity (actually slightly before it reached maturity).

There are many factors that influence participation including weather and local demographics. Would be interesting to compare this trend to other races in the NW to see if this is a local issue or a general issue for running events.


Percentage of registrants that finish

It is likely that the largest group of non-finishers are people who registered but did not show up on the day of the run.


Where Participants Come From

The overwhelming majority come from Spokane County, nearby North Idaho and then other areas in Washington State. Just 1.9% come from Canada – presumably they sing the Canadian national anthem at Bloomsday to give it an International flavor. (For the record, I really like Canadians and Canada.)

A reasonable guess is that at least 70%-80% of participants are local or just drove in for the day and do not stay overnight.  Bloomsday is primarily a local Spokane/NE WA/N ID event.


Economic Impact

The distribution of participants by geography affects the economic impact of Bloomsday. Those from out of town are more likely to stay in hotels and spend money at restaurants or shopping venues.

While those from in-town and the local area may also spend money at restaurants and shopping, this does not necessarily add to the Spokane economy. This is because it is spending money locally that would have otherwise been spent locally anyway and does not necessarily represent a net gain to the local economy. Whether we buy a hamburger a week ago or buy a hamburger this week because of Bloomsday, the impact is the same – no net gain. The main economic impact comes from those who are from outside the area.

There are both positive and negative economic impacts. The positive ones are mostly obvious, coming from true out of town visitors, the negative ones include businesses being closed and businesses that see lower sales on the day of the event because of the event, and disruptions to local traffic and local activities.

2013 Spokane Bloomsday Run Total Participants and Historical Trend

(5/6/2013 Watch for a newer version of this coming out soon – with more interesting facts and charts!)

2013 Spokane Bloomsday Running Race Event

As of May 4th, the Spokesman-Review reports an estimate of 51,000 registrations expected. On May 5th, KREM reports 48,000 registrations.

On April 29th and again on April 30th,KHQ reported over 60,000 people would finish the race, which has never happened in the event’s history and considering the trend, seems unlikely.

In the chart below, 2013 is estimated at 51,000 per the Spokesman-Review and the number of finishers is estimated based on the ratio of completions in 2012. This chart will be updated when final numbers are available.

Update: Final number of registrations came in at 51,950. Based on that, I estimate 46,930 finishers. 

Nice shirts 🙂

chart_1Not to be out done by KHQ making up the 60,000 finishers number, KXLY falsely reports “Bloomsday 2013, as is the case with years past, is bigger and better than ever“.

Perhaps better but definitely not bigger!

Bloomsday Participants – Percent Men versus Percent Women

Why are guys no longer participating as much in Bloomsday?


Also, the terrorists won.  Total victory.

Spokane to ban all backpacks and gym bags along entire course, says the Spokesman-Review.  The police Chief, in a massive anti-environment move, says people should wear disposable clothing:

Backpacks and gym bags will not be allowed on the course, Straub said. Instead of carrying extra layers of clothing, Straub said to wear disposable sweaters and jackets to stay warm during the chilly morning hours.

One cannot make this up.

Next step will probably be to require all participants be naked. That would serve a dual purpose – security, and it would probably increase the number of men participating in the event too. 

Further, the statistical correlation between clothing and terrorism is a stunning 100%. The correlation with backpacks, hooded sweatshirts, gym bags and coats is almost zero percent.

The only way to keep us safe from underware and shoe bombers is to  insist on full scale nudity. Anything less and Bloomsday will be unsafe. Please call the authorities and demand that Bloomsday be kept safe by requiring all participants and spectators to be naked.