Geoffrey Wardle faced an angry crowd Tuesday that jeered him, cheered his detractors, cursed and slung occasional insults. One person even called the veteran Boise attorney a “carpetbagger.”
Through it all, Wardle stayed remarkably calm. He got himself into the showdown because he represents Greenstone Properties, an Atlanta-based developer that wants to build a stadium on the southeast corner of Americana Boulevard and Shoreline Drive, on the southern edge of Downtown Boise.
Greenstone held the meeting to satisfy a legal requirement to notify neighbors within 300 feet of the stadium site and hold a meeting for them. Wardle said his team invited many more people than the law requires.
About 100 people showed up. Overwhelmingly, they opposed the stadium project. Wardle said it was the biggest crowd he’s seen at a neighborhood meeting, but he wasn’t surprised by its feisty tenor or the varied reasons they stated for their opposition.
Cassie Sturdevant, who lives in Southeast Boise, said location is her main concern. She doesn’t think there’s enough room for parking and that the streets around the site don’t have enough capacity for the traffic it would add.
The project, as proposed, would include a 700-space parking garage, as well as residential, office and retail space. The Ada County Highway District, which controls public roads, has not weighed in yet as to how traffic would be affected, partly because Greenstone has yet to submit an application.
Sturdevant also worries about environmental impacts, such as how noise from the stadium would affect birds in Ann Morrison and Kathryn Albertson parks just on the other side of the Boise River.
“And also, I don’t want to pay for it,” she said.
Public and private money would cover the stadium’s anticipated $40 million construction cost. Greenstone would donate four acres where the stadium would be located, probably to the city of Boise, and $1 million in cash.
The city would contribute $3 million. The Greater Boise Auditorium District would add $5 million. The Capital City Development Corp., Boise’s urban renewal agency, would borrow money to pay the rest.
Greenstone would build at least $60 million of private development around the stadium, including office, retail and residential space. Property taxes from that development and lease payments from the Boise Hawks — a minor league baseball team that would play in the stadium — would cover the renewal agency’s loan payments. Boise would own the stadium after that debt is paid off.
Proponents say the stadium would breathe life into an area that hasn’t seen as much economic growth as the Downtown core.
Zack Stoddard, who works in commercial real estate and attended Tuesday’s meeting, said he hadn’t made up his mind on the stadium. He said people he’s talked to who own property near the site were excited about the project because it could make their land more valuable.
Terry Copple, a partner in the Boise law firm Davison Copple, Copple and Copple, said the project might be appropriate if the area were truly deteriorated.
“The fundamental flaw with what they’re trying to do here is that this is not blighted,” Copple said Tuesday.
Dorothy Ford had a much more personal reason for opposing the stadium. Ford lives in a senior housing complex a few hundred feet east of the site. She worries noise would keep not just her, but her fellow residents in the complex, from sleeping.
“It’s very frustrating,” she said. “The first time (the proposal) came around, I didn’t sleep for about two or three weeks. Because when I would lie down, all I could think about was this big monstrosity in the middle of this little place.”
Michelle Crawforth said she’s skeptical the ground is stable enough to support a stadium, parking garage and other big buildings. Like Copple, she suspects the stadium would be run-down by the time it was paid off and came into Boise’s possession.
Wardle said Greenstone will try to submit an application for the project in the next week. If that happens, Boise’s Planning and Zoning Commission likely would hold a public hearing on it in June, with the City Council taking it up weeks later.