Governor’s Ball moves to Lacey – again

October 25th, 2012 by Ken

The Governor’s Inaugural Ball executive committee has signed a contract to hold the  special event at St. Martin’s  University’s pavilion, causing consternation and wailing from some Olympia officials.

The Ball, held every four years to welcome the new governor to Olympia, has been held on the capitol campus for the past 30 years since the time of Mike Lowery.   This year the committee decided to move to St. Martin’s for cost and safety reasons.

“The capitol campus is a beautiful location, but it’s not conducive for safety and cost reasons,” said Dan Neuhauser, chair of the Inaugural Ball Committee.  “”Since we’ve held the ball on the campus, we’ve had concerns about the safety of our guests.”

Neuhauser said the marble steps, the tents and their straps created a safety problem.   In addition, it costs $80,000 just for the tents alone, without the cost of heating them during cold January nights.  Neuhauser said that parking was a problem and there were costs associated with shuttles to bring the guests to the campus.

“At St. Martin’s we won’t have any of those problems,” he said.  “It will be a better location for our guests.”

Not everyone agrees.  Some members of the Olympia City Council have been voicing their displeasure and even State Representative Sam Hunt is getting into the controversy and attempting to gain some support from state lawmakers.

But, the contract has been signed and plans are moving ahead to use the college’s pavilion.   Neuhauser  pointed out that in the 100 year history of the Governor’s Ball, it has been held at the college before.   In addition, it has been held at the Red Lion and the Olympia Armory.

The first ball was held in the Temple of Justice building in 1913, before the rest of the capitol group was constructed.  The Inaugural Ball Committee is commemorating that event this time with a special “honored guest reception” at the Temple of Justice building before moving on to Lacey and St. Martin’s University.

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