Tacoma must approve Warhol design for Dome: Our own “dome sweet dome” is threatened by use of roof for ad space

1982 marked the beginning of the construction of a familiar Tacoma landmark: the Tacoma Dome.

The Dome, designed by two local architects, won an international design competition.

Their design was brought to life 44 million dollars and one year later in 1983.

During this time, the city invited its citizens to submit ideas to decorate the top of the Dome.

During the submission process the city received a design idea from prominent pop-artist Andy Warhol of a giant flower that would cover the span of the entire dome.

The submission wasn’t picked at the time, but recently members of the Tacoma community have started to advocate for the instillation of Warhol’s proposal.

Due to the recent burst of support, the city got in contact with the Andy Warhol Foundation and has received the foundation’s approval to continue with the project with minimal setbacks.

On April 22 a local graphic design company called Rainier Industries helped to produce a sample portion of the Warhol flower with an adhesive film that would be attached within the next month, in order to test the material and to see how it would respond under different weather conditions.

It would be left up for six months, and depending on the results could either solidify or demolish the plan to install the flower.

So far the city has claimed that they would raise the 2.2 million dollars necessary to install the entire flower if the proposal does get accepted, as well as the money to pay for the $150,000 annual cleaning fee.

Despite these efforts, there is still opposition from prominent city members.

By installing the flower, the Dome would no longer be usable as advertising space, and would prevent the Dome from renting out the roof space to large corporations.

They argue that using the roof as an advertising space could generate over $600,000 of annual revenue for the Tacoma Dome.

The people advocating for this option don’t want to eliminate the possibility of corporate sponsorship, and think that the flower would be taking away any possibility of a corporate revenue stream.

Either way, both decisions would have to earn the approval of the Tacoman public, and it doesn’t look like the people want the advertising option just yet.

That isn’t to say advertising doesn’t have its place in a city environment.

Tacomans, however, have made great strides in their support for the public arts.

The people of Tacoma have been doing their best to speak out against the conversion of the Dome into a giant advertisement.

There is a group on Facebook called “Citizens to Install Any Warhol’s Flower on Tacoma Dome” that promotes awareness about the decision being made by the city, and the role Tacoma citizens can play in the outcome.

It is obvious that Tacoma citizens do have a role to play, evident through the naming war in 2013 when Comcast pulled its bid to rename and advertise on the Dome after community involvement became more and more controversial.

Salina Bader, a concerned Tacoma community member, spoke out in promotion for the Warhol proposal and considered how Tacoma would be received if the dome were to become an advertising platform.

“The dome is a beacon of Tacoma. As you are driving into the city you don’t want the first thing you see to be a giant advertisement, you want to see a community that embraces art and color and is about more than money.”

Because the Tacoma community focuses so much on the arts and freedom of artistic expression, using the Dome as a form of advertising would be a poor decision on the city’s part, and would prompt a strong response from the Tacoma art community.

Cody Lail, a religious life advisor and leader of Lighthouse, a Christian inter-denominational faith group on campus, shared his opinion on the matter.

“Creatives are always concerned about the space that art holds in a society. So much art is commercial, and that’s not entirely bad, but art serves a different purpose when it’s allowed to hold its space without selling anything. For every passerby on the freeway, the image on the dome will communicate the values we hold as a city, and do so with a megaphone. I, and many others, would rather share our love of art, culture, and our sense of history, rather than a cartoon scale billboard.”

This decision isn’t merely about the role of advertising in the city, but also reflects on Tacoma and how we want to interact with our environment.

If the Warhol proposal does get rejected, I expect that the Tacoma community will have something to say.