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Group Submits Signatures for Boise Ballpark Referendum

Boise HawksIn hopes of putting a potential Boise Hawks (Short Season A; Northwest League) ballpark project before voters in a referendum, a citizens group has submitted a petition with over 7,000 signatures. 

As part of an effort to replace Memorial Stadium, Hawks ownership has been working on plans for a new ballpark. Greenstone Properties–where Hawks co-owner Chris Schoen is a partner–is working on a proposal to build the facility as part of a larger development on a site in the city’s West End, with the Hawks and professional soccer among the uses pitched for the potential venue.

A citizens group named Boise Working Together has been seeking to put the ballpark, along with separate plans for a new library, before voters as part of a referendum. The group, which says it is not taking a stance on either project but wants residents to have an opportunity to vote, submitted a petition on Tuesday relating to the ballpark plan that included 7,148 signatures and another for the library with 7,311 signatures. The signatures on both petitions must now be verified as registered Boise voters by the Ada County Board of Elections, with a minimum of 4,962 valid signatures needed to facilitate a referendum. More from the Idaho Statesman:

Mayor David Bieter said the city is “optimistic that both projects will become reality, no matter the ultimate determination by the county clerk on the petitions.”

“Whatever the outcome of this process, these projects represent the kind of city we want to leave behind for future generations,” Bieter said in a news release. “To me, the choice is clear – we must chart a course with vision. The alternative is simply not worthy of this fine city and its residents.”…

The stadium would be privately developed but owned by the city. Most of its $50 million is expected to come from bonds sold by Boise’s urban-renewal agency and paid back with increased property taxes created by new, surrounding development, plus lease payments of more than $1 million per year made by Agon Sports, which owns the Boise Hawks and the soccer team that would play at the stadium.

The plans for both projects to use urban renewal money triggered the possibility that either or both could end up going before voters independently of the petition drive in order to comply with changes the Legislature made this year to Idaho’s urban renewal law. The law requires a public vote if the cost of a municipal building or a major remodel exceeds $1 million and is funded by at least 51 percent non-federal public money that includes any amount of urban-renewal money.

The proposed facility has been pitched as a home for the Hawks along with a planned professional soccer club in Division II USL Championship, which would also be owned by Hawks ownership group Agon Sports & Entertainment. (That club was announced earlier this year as being contingent upon construction of the proposed ballpark.) College sports could also be part of the mix, as Boise State recently announced it would reengage in discussions about placing its baseball program at the facility.

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