Imagine a baseball-soccer-special events stadium coming to the West end of Downtown Boise that transforms the region around Americana Boulevard and Shoreline Drive near the Boise River into “a destination.”
Once approved, built and opened, the new facility could host as many as 200 events per year, attracting half a million or more people.
Chris Schoen, the developer at Greenstone properties can see it. But that’s because he’s already lived it in Fort Wayne, Ind., where the now-completed Harrison Square project includes a the mixed-use development where the TinCaps play ball, where joggers get in a run, where summer concerts are held and where movies show on a jumbo screen while folks lounge on the grass. The old ball park in another location used to draw only 165,000 each year, but now draws more than 400,000 annually.
While the Indiana project — which saved a lifeless and decaying old downtown — has rounded the bases, another Greenstone project in North Augusta, S.C., is just getting underway. Like Fort Wayne, it promises to be mixed-use that involves baseball, apartments, a hotel and a host of retail attractions.
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Schoen and Boise City Council member Scot Ludwig visited with the Idaho Statesman Editorial Board Monday to answer questions about the proposed $41 million Greenstone stadium development on an 11-acre tract and talk about the Boise vision.
The development of a master plan, a financial plan and plenty of other matters might be nailed down by the fall. Though there is still a thick forest of unanswered questions, Greenstone’s ability to deliver in other communities has blazed a trail that can’t be denied, and which Boise can evaluate.
We know that the Boise Hawks would be involved, and that a minor-league soccer team and the idea of a Boise State University baseball team — which does not yet exist — are in the conversation. It is obvious that much more has to happen beyond the Hawks’ schedule to reach that 200-event goal. The possibility of musical and other events will be on the table. The idea would be to have the complex ready to open in 2020.
I see no reason to stop talking because the momentum of so many improvements and developments downtown, and Greenstone’s track record, make this one easier to imagine.
I am curious to see how the stadium project will play in the upcoming Greater Boise Auditorium District election May 16 because GBAD could be a key financial backer and player.
But the ultimate fate of the project is going to take the support of a broad swath of the community.
Let me know what you think.