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City Mulls Boise Hawks Ballpark Safeguards

Proposed Boise Hawks ballpark

In the ongoing discussions of a new downtown Boise Hawks (Short Season A; Northwest League) ballpark, city officials have reportedly considered safeguards to reduce the project’s financial risk. 

If it moves forward, the proposed Boise ballpark would be a major piece of a larger development plan. 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, and would plan to develop the surrounding area.

For the construction of the ballpark, the financial framework that has previously been reported would involve contributions from multiple sources. 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. Property taxes from surrounding development, in addition to annual ballpark rent payments, would cover the CCDC’s debt.

As they continue to consider that aspect of the plan, City of Boise officials have reportedly mulled potential financial safeguards. In a longer report that looks into concerns that the deal is being negotiated in secrecy, the Idaho Statesman uncovered some of the details. Among the safeguards that have been discussed by city staff include reimbursing Schoen for the ballpark’s costs, and for him and Greenstone to assume any construction overruns. There is no word to this point as to whether Schoen would agree to those terms. More from the Idaho Statesman:

First, Schoen would have to build the roughly $36 million stadium at his own cost through Greenstone. He would be reimbursed by the three Boise agencies, but Schoen and Greenstone would have to pay for any construction cost overruns.

CCDC would shoulder most of the reimbursement to Schoen through 20-year bonds. It would repay those with income from stadium lease payments and property tax money from at least $67 million of private development Schoen would build next to the stadium.

The last two safeguards deal with insulating that arrangement. One would require Schoen’s other company, Agon Sports and Entertainment, to guarantee yearly lease payments of around $1 million for a few years — maybe three, maybe five — after the stadium is open….

Additionally, Schoen and Greenstone would have to cover any gap between the urban renewal agency’s debt payments and the combined lease/property tax income. This arrangement would continue for a few years after construction.

Concerned Boise Taxpayers, a group that was formed in opposition to the new ballpark, has raised concerns about the plan being negotiated in secrecy. Last month, the group has specifically pointed to an October 2014 exchange involving Schoen and auditorium district executive director Pat Rice, alleging that the district deliberately held less-than-quorum meetings with Schoen in order to work around Idaho’s open meeting law. Currently, a county sheriff’s detective is investigating the issue.

The ballpark has been pitched for a 2020 opening and, as noted, would be used for additional events. Among the other possibilities for the facility is a professional soccer team in the USL, with MLS’s Portland Timbers reported in the past as a possible parent club.

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