Boise & Garden City

That proposed Boise sports stadium? It might go somewhere else. Here's why

A bird’s-eye view of the proposed Downtown Boise stadium site

The managing partner of the Boise Hawks 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 Haw
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The managing partner of the Boise Hawks 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 Haw

The stadium proposed in Downtown Boise’s southwest corner might not go there after all.

Mayor Dave Bieter said Tuesday that he is evaluating a proposal to relocate the stadium from the site of a former Kmart now occupied by St. Luke’s Health System to land about half a mile to the northwest — possibly the same parcel where College of Western Idaho plans to build its Boise campus.

CWI could go into the former Kmart where St. Luke’s has offices at Americana Boulevard and Shoreline Drive, allowing it to open in Boise sooner than it could on a riverfront parcel it owns on the northwest corner of Whitewater Park Boulevard and West Main Street, Bieter told the Idaho Statesman.

Bieter said he likes the proposal. The deal would move the stadium to a less attractive spot, he said, but it would result in a Downtown Boise campus for CWI — a bonus the mayor believes could yield a greater overall benefit to the city.

Bieter said details, including cost, are being studied. If the deal doesn’t work out, the city could stick with the existing proposal.

Gary Michael, founder of anti-stadium group Concerned Boise Taxpayers, said he didn’t know enough about the new concept to say whether he liked it overall. He said he liked the idea of putting a CWI campus at Shoreline and Americana.

“I love this site for them,” Michael said. “I think it would be unbelievable.”

City spokesman Mike Journee said a person approached the city with the proposal a little more than a week ago. Journee declined to identify the person.

CWI would give up the 10.3 acres it owns on the northwest corner of Whitewater and Main. In exchange, it would receive some of the Shoreline-Americana property, which Atlanta-based developer Chris Schoen has agreed to buy from St. Luke’s for an undisclosed price.

Nothing is certain, but CWI could use the building on the Shoreline-Americana parcel for classes and other activities, at least temporarily, said Nic Miller, Boise’s economic development director. That would give the college a chance to open an urban campus in Boise soon and at minimal expense.

CWI representatives were not available for comment Tuesday.

CWI bought the Whitewater-Main land in 2015 for almost $9 million. A $180 million ballot measure seeking to sell bonds for a new campus there and for other projects failed in November 2016.

It’s unclear whether Schoen would build the stadium on that property or somewhere nearby. Los Angeles developer LocalConstruct owns roughly 6.5 acres on the southeast corner of the same intersection but has not settled on a plan to develop it.

Bieter spoke Tuesday morning with LocalConstruct principal Mike Brown, said Journee, who declined to disclose details. Efforts to contact Brown were unsuccessful.

The financing model for the new proposal would resemble the existing one: Boise and the Greater Boise Auditorium District would still contribute cash for the stadium’s construction; Capital City Development Corp., Boise’s urban renewal agency, would borrow money to cover the rest of the construction cost. Public funding has been a focus of opposition to the proposal.

The urban renewal agency’s bond repayments could be higher, because it would have to pay them off faster. The Whitewater-Main property is in an existing urban renewal district that will expire in 2033. The agency would use property tax money from the district to pay back the borrowed money, but it can only collect money for as long as the district exists.

Under the existing plan, the city would establish a new urban renewal district with a more distant expiration date in the Americana-Shoreline area, giving the urban-renewal agency more time to pay back the money borrowed for the stadium.

Regardless of what happens with the stadium, the agency likely will move forward with plans for the new district, said Bieter, who sits on the renewal agency’s board of directors.

Bieter said the emergence of the new stadium proposal shows that, counter to some accusations, the city and other public agencies aren’t concluding deals outside the public eye.

“We’ve said as much as we could get out about the sports park and all the details that we can give,” he said. “But these are fluid situations. Obviously, we meant that. But we also mean that about this idea. It’s also not a done deal, like the previous one is not a done deal. We’re excited about the prospects.”

Bieter said the city hopes to hold a town hall-style meeting early next year for people to tell him and the City Council what they think of the stadium proposals.