Boise Makes Case for Sports Park, Requests Public Input 

  • Courtesy Boise Hawks
The city of Boise is making its case for a $40 million sports complex and $60 million mixed-use development in the River District, and is inviting the public to attend open houses and submit online responses to the potential project.

"This is really about the stars aligning, kind of perfectly, at this moment in time," said city spokesman Mike Journee. "A downtown sports center of some type has been talked about for many years, and oftentimes that's been connected closely with the Hawks. This has a lot of other elements involved as well."

On the Boise Sports Park page on the city website, planners have offered a breakdown of the proposed multipurpose stadium, which would be the new home of the Boise Hawks baseball team. The complex is also intended to draw a Boise-based United States Soccer League team, Boise State University athletics, youth sporting events and cultural events like concerts and festivals.

Plus, it would be a boon to the River District near Americana Boulevard and River Street, which, according to the city, is suffering a low rate of property value increase (10 percent in the past five years versus 52 percent downtown), deteriorating buildings and stagnant construction. Proponents of the project have identified an 11-acre, $4.8 million parcel for its construction near the Boise River that would be contributed by a private developer.

"We're talking about a $100 million investment in an area ... that has lagged behind the rest of downtown," Journee said. "Neither the public stadium nor the private development would be viable without the other. This is going to be a great catalyst for that part of downtown."

The project would require a $36 million investment for the park itself and an additional $4 million in public infrastructure improvements. Funding would include the contribution of land, $5 million from the Greater Boise Auditorium District, $3 million from the Boise City general fund, $1 million from the operator of the park and a 20-year bond from the Capital City Development Corporation. It is estimated the park would be completely owned by the city of Boise in 20 years.

Private development is anticipated to reach an additional $60 million, creating 60,000 square feet of retail space, 120,000 square feet of office space, parking—a recent study put the number of parking spaces within half a mile of the proposed stadium at 5,000—and 300 new residences. It is also projected to create 1,240 full- and part-time jobs with $36 million in payroll annually.

Over two years of construction and 20 years of operation, according to an early feasibility study, the project would have a cumulative cost of $883 million, but generate a total of $1.8 billion, including $802 million in private earnings and $28 million in tax revenues to the city.

A timetable for the stadium begins this fall, and by winter 2017, the Boise City Council and GBAD will consider its financial terms. In spring 2018, the stadium will undergo reviews of land use and design, with a groundbreaking in 2019 and a grand opening in 2020. For now, the city is putting the idea of the stadium before the public for input.

"We're establishing that this is a viable thing—that this can happen," Journee said.

Open houses on the project will take place Thursday, Oct. 5, at the Boise Centre from 6-8 p.m.; Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Payette Brewing from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and at Boise City Hall Monday, Oct. 16, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
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