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Boise nabs all-star event. And leaders say it helps the case for a new downtown stadium

Here’s where a new Boise stadium might go

An Atlanta developer, Chris Schoen of Greenstone Properties, is negotiating to buy this vacant site on Main Street west of Whitewater Boulevard so he can build a stadium there.
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An Atlanta developer, Chris Schoen of Greenstone Properties, is negotiating to buy this vacant site on Main Street west of Whitewater Boulevard so he can build a stadium there.

Garden City’s Memorial Stadium has hosted its share of memorable events, from concerts to festivals to future MLB stars. But for the first time in the stadium’s history, it will host a professional all-star baseball game.

The Northwest-Pioneer League All-Star Game is headed to the home of the Boise Hawks on Aug. 6, 2019, city and franchise leaders announced Thursday.

“This event, it’s about the best of the best of baseball players, world-class, professional baseball players coming to our city and playing at our ballpark,” Boise Hawks General Manager Bob Flannery said.

Boise can be excused from missing out on all-star activities so far because the game is a new creation. The Northwest League, where the Hawks play, started its yearly all-star game in 2013 before joining forces with the Pioneer League in 2015. The joint all-star game selects a Northwest League team and a Pioneer League team to compete against each other with a home run derby earlier in the day.

The Pioneer League is a rookie/short-season A league comparable with the Northwest League with teams in Idaho Falls, Montana, Utah and Colorado. The two leagues rotate hosting the all-star game each year.

Flannery said the Hawks applied to host the all-star game for the first time last fall. Even with the franchise owners planning a new stadium, he felt the team could handle it now at Memorial Stadium.

“For what Memorial Stadium is, it’s a nice little place for what we are now,” Flannery said. “But there’s no way it can hold us where we’re going to be one day. It’s not big enough.

“For right now, it works. So we want to show off to our league, ‘Look what we’ve done here.’ And we’re proud of it. But we want to bring it back one day to a new ballpark, trust me.”

Nabbing the all-star game marks the latest feather in the cap of the Hawks ownership group, Agon Sports and Entertainment. The Hawks are drawing 3,239 fans per game to Memorial Stadium so far this summer, a 40 percent increase since Agon bought the team after the 2014 season.

Agon and Greenstone Properties have also pushed for a new downtown stadium that would share the field with a minor-league soccer team. But that plan has met stiff resistance.

Taxpayers would invest $36 million in the project, largely from bonds backed by new revenues that the stadium and accompanying new development would generate, according to the city. The Hawks’ owners would build $60 million worth of private commercial and residential development around the stadium.

Plans originally centered around a location at Americana Boulevard and Shoreline Drive, but the Hawks have since shifted their focus to property on the south side of Main Street between Whitewater Park Boulevard and 27th Street.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter said getting the all-star game will help build momentum toward a new stadium.

“We’ve been working hard on that,” Bieter said. “It’s taken a couple of different twists. I had some meetings just this week. And we are confident we can bring a new park to the city in the near future. The timing of this couldn’t be better.”

Hawks season ticket holders will get tickets to the all-star game included in their package. Tickets to the general public won’t go on sale until next season.

With 25 players on each team and representatives from teams in both leagues coming to Boise, the Hawks estimate the two-day all-star event will lead to the sale of 90-150 hotel rooms. Bill Connors, the president of Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, said that shows the kind of payoff the Treasure Valley could receive from a new stadium.

“Cities and states who ignore the economic power of sports don’t get it,” Connor said. “There are cities who do get it, and they’ve invested in infrastructure to attract events just like this one.

“… So when you have an all-star game, and the focus of a lot of professional sports will be on Boise that particular day, it’s a good thing for Boise, it’s a good thing for business and it’s a good thing for Idaho. We hope we continue, under the mayor’s leadership, to invest in sports infrastructure because it’s big business and it’s good business.”

Hawks on deck to host all-star game

The Boise Hawks will host an all-star game for the first time next summer. Previous all-star game hosts include:

2013 — Everett, Wash.

2014 — Eugene, Ore.

2015 — Spokane, Wash.

2016 — Ogden, Utah

2017 — Hillsboro, Ore.

2018 — Grand Junction, Colo.