Beating the heat with the Boise Hawks
The managing partner of the Boise Hawks ownership group is poised to buy 11 acres in Downtown Boise, part of which he would donate to the city for the construction of a 5,000-seat, multisport stadium and event center.
The stadium would be the new home for the Hawks, the Treasure Valley’s minor league baseball team, and potentially for a minor league soccer team. And there is some hope that Boise State University would use the field for new men’s baseball and women’s lacrosse teams.
The stadium could be ready for play as early as spring 2019, though spring 2020 is more likely, people close to the transaction said.
If the deal goes forward as planned, Chris Schoen, managing partner for a development company, would put the stadium on four acres of the lot between Americana Boulevard, Shoreline Drive, 14th Street and Spa Street. That property is owned by a company managed by St. Luke’s Health System.
Schoen and his company, Greenstone Properties, would build a $60 million project that includes residential, retail, office and parking space on seven acres of land immediately surrounding the stadium.
Boise City Councilman Scot Ludwig, who’s been a go-between for Schoen, St. Luke’s and other groups that could end up having a financial interest in the project, said St. Luke’s had agreed in principle to sell Schoen the land at “a very fair price.” He wouldn’t say what the price is.
The stadium deal is a long way from becoming reality.
St. Luke’s spokeswoman Anita Kissee said in a statement Friday afternoon that the hospital group is considering selling its properties along Shoreline Drive as it consolidates Boise operations closer to its flagship hospital in the northeast corner of Downtown. But the Hawks ownership isn’t the only interested party, Kissee said.
Rather, St. Luke’s is “negotiating properly” with people and groups that are interested in the property, including the state of Idaho, Kissee said. The goal is “to reach the best agreement that meets not only the needs of St. Luke’s, but the future property owner, whomever that may end up being.”
“No deal or agreement has been reached with any party at this time,” Kissee said.
This project would bring to Boise an asset that the city government, especially Mayor Dave Bieter, and a host of other groups have long desired. Owners of the Hawks, dating to before the team was a Colorado Rockies affiliate, have tried unsuccessfully for years to replace Memorial Stadium, the nearly 30-year-old venue in Garden City where the Hawks play. It doesn’t have modern facilities for athletes or fans.
A new stadium also would boost a resurgence of the area west of Downtown Boise that went through decades of decline after the I-184 Connector was built, stripping the area of exposure to commuting traffic.
Ludwig credited Bieter for believing in the benefits of a stadium and continuing to push for it despite years of obstacles.
“His persistence has brought all these players to the table to make this a real possibility,” Ludwig said.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
In addition to donating the land for the stadium, Schoen would contribute $1 million to its construction cost, which is expected to be about $41 million. The Boise Hawks would lease the stadium, whose eventual owner is a detail that has yet to be worked out. Other potential sources of income include the minor league soccer team, BSU, concerts, prep sports tournaments and other events.
Capital City Development Corp., Boise’s urban renewal agency, would borrow money to pay for the stadium’s construction cost, Ludwig said. Other groups, including Greater Boise Auditorium District and the city of Boise, could have a hand in financing the stadium, either with upfront cash contributions that pay down the principal of the stadium loan or with yearly contributions that help pay off the debt.
The city of Boise would establish a new urban renewal district out of pieces of three existing districts — 30th Street, River Myrtle and Westside — so that the district can last as long as the term of the loan, Ludwig said.
Schoen said Friday that his Boise deal has the same financial structure as projects he’s worked on in Fort Wayne, Ind., where he built a stadium in 2008 for that city’s minor league baseball team, as well as North Augusta, S.C., where Greenstone broke ground last month on another stadium-anchored development.
“We’ve got to commit enough commercial private development so that, coupled with the rent that the team would pay, all those sources are sufficient to be able to pay those bonds off,” he said.
Schoen said he and his partners are excited about Boise, particularly the property between the Boise River and the Connector.
“What we’ve seen in North Augusta, what we saw in Fort Wayne, is the stadium becomes a real catalyst for (commercial) activity,” he said.