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Group Raises Concerns Over Boise Ballpark Meetings

Proposed Boise Hawks ballpark

A group is claiming that a prior Greater Boise Auditorium District meeting with developer Chris Schoen regarding a potential new Boise Hawks (Short Season A; Northwest League) ballpark was conducted illegally, prompting an inquiry into the issue. 

Schoen is the owner of Greenstone Properties and a co-owner of the Hawks. As part of the Hawks’ ongoing effort to secure a new ballpark, a proposal has surfaced for a downtown Boise facility that would be surrounded by a mixed-use development led by Greenstone Propertes.

Concerned Boise Taxpayers, a group that was formed in opposition to the ballpark plan, is raising issues with a series of emails between the auditorium district and Schoen, and presented its concerns in a letter to a Ada County prosecutor. Citing an October 2014 exchange involving Schoen and auditorium district executive director Pat Rice, the group alleges that the auditorium district deliberately held less-than-quorum meetings with Schoen in order to work around Idaho’s open meeting law. An Ada County deputy prosecutor has turned the complaint over to the sheriff’s office, while Rice contends that the auditorium district’s actions did not violate state laws. More from The Idaho Statesman:

“ ‘Meeting’ means the convening of a governing body of a public agency to make a decision or to deliberate toward a decision on any matter,” the law reads. “ ‘Deliberation’ means the receipt or exchange of information or opinion relating to a decision, but shall not include informal or impromptu discussions of a general nature which do not specifically relate to a matter then pending before the public agency for decision.”

Rice said he wasn’t trying to avoid the law by setting up meetings of no more than two board members at a time: “The intention was to make sure that we didn’t break the law.”

Rice said he’d heard speculation that Schoen would someday ask the auditorium district to put up money for the stadium, but the board had received no official presentation. That’s why he wanted board members to meet Schoen in 2014.

“It was purely meet-and-greet,” he said. “There was no district business discussed. It was simply, ‘If you’re going to talk about the district, then get to know the board members.’ That was it.”

The financing plan for the new Boise ballpark calls for the facility to cost $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.

The ballpark is being pitched for a 2020 opening and would include a USL professional soccer team as a tenant.

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