Boise & Garden City

GBAD candidates talk stadium, finances, promoting conventions in first candidate forum

GBAD candidates on their visions for the district

Scott Mecham, Judy Peavey-Derr, Hy Kloc and Kristin Muchow share their thoughts on a proposed Downtown Boise stadium, parking and other issues facing the Greater Boise Auditorium District.
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Scott Mecham, Judy Peavey-Derr, Hy Kloc and Kristin Muchow share their thoughts on a proposed Downtown Boise stadium, parking and other issues facing the Greater Boise Auditorium District.

A civil, even friendly tone dominated a forum Tuesday where four candidates for the Greater Boise Auditorium District’s board of directors offered their visions for the district.

Incumbents Judy Peavey-Derr and Hy Kloc showed a good grasp of the issues facing the board and how it makes decisions, which makes sense because they’ve been at it since 2011.

[May 2017 Voter Guide: Hear from candidates for office from across the Treasure Valley]

Peavey-Derr pointed out that the board has come a long way over the past six years, working through the rancor that marred members’ relationships with each other; revamping the district’s financial structures to yield more income; and taking on a $47.5 million expansion of Boise Centre, the district’s convention venue.

Kloc pointed out that the expansion, which is almost complete, made possible the largest convention Boise has ever hosted. When he came on the board, Kloc said, the district had a lot of money saved up but wasn’t doing much with it and so it wasn’t following the mission laid out for it in state law.

Challenger Kristin Muchow showed some polish as she answered questions from the moderator and the audience. Some of her knowledge appeared to stem from her day job, helping organizations find venues for conventions, and some seemed to come from research she’s conducted in the last six months.

Scott Mecham, another challenger, restated his concerns about parking Downtown. Though parking is the purview of the city of Boise and Boise’s urban renewal agency, Mecham said he would support a policy that refused an auditorium district investment in any project that doesn’t provide adequate parking spaces for the activity it attracts.

A proposal for a Downtown Boise stadium was a major topic of discussion, as expected. All four candidates said they support the initial concept for the project, though some concerns linger about whether the auditorium district has the financial wherewithal to invest in its construction and year-after-year operating costs.

Other questions concerned early rumblings about a small performing arts center in Downtown Boise and the district’s appropriate level of contributions to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, which markets events in Boise, including at Boise Centre.

Early voting in the election began Monday and will continue through May 12. Standard voting will be held May 16. Voters will be allowed to vote for two of the four candidates, with the top two vote-getters winning seats on the district’s board of directors.

What is GBAD?

The Greater Boise Auditorium District was established by voters in June 1959 to encourage growth and economic activity by building and operating visitor facilities like auditoriums, arenas and convention venues. The district’s money comes from a 5 percent tax on hotel room rentals inside its boundaries, which encircle Boise and Garden City.

The district owns and operates Boise Centre, the convention venue on The Grove Plaza that just underwent a $47.5 million expansion.

Early voting starts Monday

For the next two weeks, the county will take early votes at two locations. Here are the details:

Ada County Elections Office

400 N. Benjamin Lane, Ste. 100, Boise

Schedule: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday until May 12

10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, May 6

Boise City Hall

150 N. Capitol Blvd.

Schedule: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, until May 12