Hy Kloc admitted a somewhat romantic reason for wanting to see a new baseball stadium in Boise.
Living in Chicago between 1982 and 1997, he said, he and friends used to sit on lawn chairs on top of the apartment buildings behind Wrigley Field’s right field wall and watch Cubs games.
As good as those memories are, though, Kloc said the main reason for a new stadium would be its ability to improve Boise.
“A ball field could be a really good amenity for the city,” he said. “Anything that’s a good amenity for the city is a good amenity for us.”
Kloc sits on the board of directors for the Greater Boise Auditorium District, which owns and operates Boise Centre, the convention venue on the southwest and east sides of Downtown Boise’s The Grove Plaza.
The board decides how to spend the district’s money, which comes from a 5-percent tax on hotel room rentals inside its boundaries, which surround the city.
Kloc and fellow director Judy Peavey-Derr’s seats on the board are up for election this year. Both incumbents told the Idaho Statesman that they’re running for re-election to six-year terms on the board. No one has officially declared candidacy yet.
March 17 is the deadline for declaring to run in the May 16 election.
The district is wrapping up a $47.5 million expansion of Boise Centre.
THE NEXT FOUR YEARS
Recently, a rough proposal emerged for a new Downtown Boise stadium for minor-league baseball and soccer, as well as prep-level sports tournaments, concerts and other events. Building the stadium would almost certainly require major investment from the auditorium district.
Kloc said he wants to be involved in that negotiation, which could dominate the district’s attention for the next several years in the same way the Boise Centre expansion has occupied it for the last four years.
Peavey-Derr is skeptical. She likes the general idea of a Downtown stadium, but she wants to make sure the district is on firm financial footing before committing to a new project.
The Boise Centre expansion is already bringing more money into the district with more and bigger conventions. But the project drained some of the district’s savings and adds operating costs.
Peavey-Derr said the district should hold off making a decision on the stadium or any major investment until it has at least a year’s worth of post-expansion bills and receipts to evaluate.
“I feel like we’re kind of a babe,” she said. “We’ve been open since October and really don’t have a good feel for our numbers. Even a year isn’t going to be that sound of a number, but at least a year would be helpful. So before we go tromping off and doing a sprint, we should learn how to crawl first.”
Potential challengers to Kloc and Peavey-Derr have inquired about the election, but no one has committed so far.
The district’s elections are unusual. Instead of picking which seat on the board they want to run for or which opponent they want to run against, candidates all run against each other. The two highest vote-getters win seats.
Four years ago, challengers Jim Walker and Steve Berch unseated incumbents Rob Perez and Stephanie Astorquia in an election that was, in part, a referendum on whether the district should get involved in a stadium project. Neither Astorquia nor Perez openly opposed the stadium idea, but they were more skeptical than Berch and Walker, who is now the chairman of the board.