If built, a proposed new ballpark for the Boise Hawks (Short Season A; Northwest League) will also house a professional soccer club in USL Championship. This news was recently confirmed by Hawks ownership and the USL.
Greenstone Properties–where Hawks co-owner Chris Schoen is a partner under–is working to build a replacement for Memorial Stadium, with the effort currently focused on a site on the city’s West End. Schoen and Jeff Eiseman co-own the Hawks through Agon Sports & Entertainment, which opened 2018 Ballpark Digest Ballpark of the Year SRP Park for the Augusta GreenJackets (Low A; Sally League) last season and is looking to bring a similar concept to Boise. The vision in Boise calls for a new facility to be surrounded by mixed-use development–evoking SRP Park and the surrounding Riverside Village–while being used for multiple types of events in addition to baseball.
The non-baseball slate of events will include professional soccer matches for a Boise-based club in USL Championship, the Division II circuit under the larger USL umbrella. Plans for the club, which were announced late last week by Agon and USL, are contingent upon construction of the proposed ballpark. More from the Idaho Statesman:
Agon Sports & Entertainment, the owners of the Boise Hawks, a short-season minor league baseball team, announced Friday that it has signed a franchise agreement with the United Soccer League to bring a team to Boise. The deal, under which Agon would own the team, is contingent upon construction of the Boise Sports Park stadium planned between Main Street, Whitewater Park Boulevard, Fairview Avenue and 27th Street.
“We’ve said all along that professional soccer is a foundational element of this project and key to its success,” Chris Schoen, managing partner for Agon Sports, said in a news release. “There is tremendous community support for bringing a pro soccer team to Boise and we’re pleased the USL recognizes the immense potential of a franchise in this market.”
The USL Championship league, based in Tampa, Florida, consists of 36 teams. It includes the Portland Timbers 2 and the Seattle Sounders FC2. Boise would make a good fit, USL spokesman Ryan Madden said.
“The community’s passion for soccer combined with the knowledge and expertise of Agon – a top quality operator of professional sports – makes the city a natural candidate for USL expansion,” Madden said in the release.
Should the plans for the Boise ballpark and USL Championship club move forward, it would be the latest example of an MiLB team and USL Championship squad playing out of the same facility. Though this number is expected to change in the coming years, there will be nine shared USL Championship/MiLB facilities in 2019, including venues in Albuquerque, El Paso, Fresno, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, Reno, Tacoma, and Tulsa.
That shows that the USL/MiLB model is already well established, and it is one that Hawks ownership will tap into if the new ballpark plans move forward. The proposed club would also further the idea of having the facility active for a wide range of non-baseball events.
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