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Hawks Ballpark Plan Met With Skepticism at Meeting

Proposed Boise Hawks ballpark

At an open house on Thursday, some attendees expressed their skepticism toward a proposal that includes a new home for the Boise Hawks (Short Season A; Northwest League).

Discussion continues of constructing a new facility in downtown Boise that would be used for the Hawks and other events, perhaps including professional soccer. USL has been prominently mentioned as a possible use in the past, and recent reports indicate that the venue could also host college baseball and soccer. The project is also expected to anchor a larger development plan, as Greenstone Properties–owned by Hawks co-owner Chris Schoenreached terms earlier this year with St. Luke’s Health System on an 11-acre property at the corner of Americana and Shoreline Drive envisioned as the facility’s site.

Under the current proposal, construction of the ballpark is expected to cost around $40 million. Greenstone, the Boise Auditorium District, and the City of Boise are expected to contribute roughly $9 million. The remainder of the cost would be covered by a 20-year bond borrowed by Capital City Development Corporation, the city’s urban renewal agency. As the details of the plan continue to be discussed, a group named Concerned Boise Taxpayers is expressing its opposition. The group, formed this summer by Gary Michael, former CEO of Albertsons, and Bill Ilett, former managing partner of the Idaho Stampede NBA D-League franchise, has come out against the plan because of what it sees as a risk to taxpayer money, as The Idaho Statesman reported earlier this week:

Greenstone has proposed building roughly $90 million worth of private commercial and residential space immediately surrounding the stadium. Property taxes from that development would help pay back the URA’s borrowed money. After 20 years, the stadium would be paid for; the city of Boise would own the stadium and could rent it to Agon, which could lease it for concerts, festivals, minor league soccer games and other events, in addition to holding Hawks games there.

The Concerned Boise Taxpayers website opposes risking taxpayer money on a project that might fail. It also claims that Memorial Stadium’s location has plenty of room for a new venue and that the Treasure Valley “can barely sustain the teams we have now.”

At an open house on Thursday, some criticized the plan, saying that they would prefer to see the city focus on other issues. More from The Idaho Statesman:

Camille DeGabrielle, who volunteered to help Concerned Boise Taxpayers hand out information at the event, lives near the proposed stadium site. She moved to Boise from Denver and does not “want to see Boise become like another city … like an ugly stepsister of Portland.”

DeGabrielle said she would rather see the city focus its resources more on homelessness and education.

This plan will receive further discussion, as two more open houses are already planned for later this month. The facility could open for the 2020 season if it does receive approval.

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