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Boise State Reconsiders Joining Hawks Ballpark Plan

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After announcing in 2017 that it would pursue its own baseball facility, Boise State is reengaging with Boise Hawks (Short Season A; Northwest League) ownership about potentially sharing a proposed ballpark. 

When it revealed in 2017 that Boise State would launch a new baseball program in 2020, it was speculated that the university’s long-term facility plan could involve sharing a proposed ballpark with the Hawks. However, the university announced in October 2017 that it would instead pursue its own on-campus ballpark, citing economic reasons. The university later acquired land near football’s Albertstons Stadium for a baseball facility, but Boise State announced in February that it would not open in 2020 as originally scheduled. With the effort for an on-campus ballpark seemingly stalling, it now appears that the university could redirect its focus toward sharing a facility with the Hawks and a planned professional soccer club in Division II USL Championship.

On Monday, the university announced that it was reconsidering the idea of joining the Hawks at the proposed ballpark. The effort for a new Hawks ballpark is being led by team ownership, with Greenstone Properties–where Hawks co-owner Chris Schoen is a partner–working on a proposal to build the facility as part of a larger development on a site in the city’s West End. There is no final agreement involving Boise State, and the university–which has issued several requirements for joining the proposal–has not officially scrapped plans for an on-campus ballpark. More from the Idaho Statesman:

“We’ve long hoped to partner with Boise State in the development of a first-class sports park that can serve as home to the Boise Hawks, USL professional soccer and BSU’s new baseball program,” Jeff Eiseman, president and partner at Agon Sports, said in a written statement provided to the Idaho Statesman. “There is no question we can build a terrific public amenity that will truly be a win-win for the entire community and Bronco Nation. Not only will it be a great place for Boise State athletics, but there are also the cost efficiencies that such a partnership would offer. While it’s too soon to discuss the fine points of the negotiations with Boise State, we certainly believe there is real potential for partnering with the university.”…

In a press release Monday, Boise State said that it has “outlined a series of requirements that university leaders say could provide the financial and logistical incentive to consider” joining the city of Boise and Greenstone on the project.

Greenstone’s project has been the source of some controversy because it relies heavily upon public urban-renewal money. The project faced some backlash for its first stadium site, a citizens group is trying to force a public vote on the stadium idea and the Legislature recently passed a law that could require a public vote.

“Boise State’s priority all along has been to build a first-class facility for our newly launched baseball program,” Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey said in the university press release. “We want to make sure we thoroughly explore all of our options and make the best long-term decision for the university and our program.”

Among the requirements outlined by Boise State include an ownership stake of at least 50 percent in the ballpark, which would be managed by a joint entity that includes the city. The university is also seeking its own clubhouse and equipment areas and an artificial turf playing surface, with the Hawks responsible for maintenance within the ballpark. The university is also seeking to have lease payments for Memorial Stadium through the spring 2022 season applied as credit toward rent at a new facility.

None of this is final, and the Hawks ballpark proposal faces its own questions at this point. Still, Boise State’s potential involvement adds a few intriguing elements. It would make the proposed ballpark a true multi-purpose facility, as Boise State would seek to use it for at least 10 women’s soccer games in addition to spring and fall baseball. For proponents of the project, news of Boise State’s renewed interest is being viewed as a positive.

“We are pleased with Boise State University’s renewed interest in being part of the Boise Sports Park,” Boise mayor Dave Bieter said via Twitter. “The time is right for such a project and we believe the university’s participation will make it more dynamic and could be the difference in it becoming a reality.”

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