With discussions over a proposed Boise Hawks‘ (Short Season A; Northwest League) ballpark continuing, some officials are touting it as a potential boost to downtown development.
The proposal in Boise is centered around a new venue that would host Hawks and other events, perhaps including professional soccer. USL has been prominently mentioned as a possible use in the past, and reports have indicated 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 Schoen—reached 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.
Current estimates call for the ballpark to cost roughly $40 million. Greenstone would provide $1 million in cash and donate four acres of land, with the city chipping in $3 million, the Greater Boise Auditorium District contributing $5 million, and the rest covered by a 20-year bond borrowed by Capital City Development Corporation (CCDC), the city’s urban renewal agency. Greenstone would be expected add at least $60 million in private development in the area surrounding the ballpark, with property taxes from that area and ballpark rent payments covering the CCDC’s debt.
Officials have been looking to begin work on the ballpark next year and open the facility in 2020, but plenty of discussion will have to take place in order for that to become a reality. As a recent Idaho Statesman story found, there is some skepticism over the proposal, but some local officials believe it could emulate similar projects that have found success in other cities:
Of course, the pro-stadium crowd, which includes Mayor David Bieter and a variety of economic experts, has its own list of success stories — minor-league baseball stadiums around the country that draw healthy crowds and are valued amenities. The most relevant one, they say, is Parkview Field in Fort Wayne, Ind., which was built with mostly public money
Schoen was also the driving force behind Parkview Field. In Boise, he wants to re-create the Fort Wayne process, which resulted in a popular stadium and a resurgent downtown.
Boise Mayor Dave Bieter says he wants the stadium here to be like Parkview Field in that it’s open to the public, much like a city park. In that case, a different standard of success would apply, Holley said, because the stadium would be built “not as an investment but as an act of consumption.”
“We don’t ask, ‘If we build a new park someplace in the city, is it going to pay for itself?’ ” [Boise State University professor emeritus of economics Don] Holley said. “It’s just something that we want there.”
The ballpark, if constructed, would replace Memorial Stadium as the home of the Hawks.
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