“If it actually had absolutely nothing to do with any decision they were ever going to make … then why were they so concerned about avoiding a quorum?” Russell said. “We feel like there’s a reason that we have an open meetings law and our government agencies shouldn’t be going to elaborate means to avoid it. They should just comply with it.”
A complaint filed late last month with the Ada County Prosecutor alleges the Greater Boise Auditorium District worked to circumvent Idaho’s open meetings law in order to conceal dealings with the developer of a proposed downtown Boise stadium.
The five-page complaint includes a string of email messages involving GBAD executive director Pat Rice and Greenstone Properties principal Chris Schoen. Greenstone is hoping to build a stadium on land currently owned by St. Luke’s Health System near the Boise River in a complex deal that would include tax dollars, public bonds and private funding.
The city of Boise proposes to fund a 5,000 seat stadium that would become the new home for the Boise Hawks, a minor league baseball team now housed at Garden City’s Memorial Stadium. The plan calls for Boise taxpayers, through a mixture of local government agencies, to pick up most of the cost associated with the $40 million project.
“Couple hours ago, I hear BSU has changed their mind about using the project,” Concerned Boise Taxpayers, the group in opposition, Co-Chair Gary Michael said to the GBAD board. “It just shows you the high risk of this project in the revenue.”
Published in the Idaho Statesman:
Why do politicians think they need a “legacy” of their office? Mayor Bieter has been pushing for this sports arena for years without much enthusiasm from the public.
“I’m not real enamored with the location. It’s an area of the city that really should experience a little more quieter development,” one open house attendee, Jody Hull, said. “They’re saying ‘we kind of have already decided this and we want your approval’, rather than saying ‘what does the city think we should do with this property’,”
BOISE — The proposed downtown stadium saga continues, with more information coming to light about Boise State University’s involvement and more background into how long the City of Boise has been working on it.
The potential mixed-use Boise Sports Park is a hot-button issue in the City of Trees, and many have mixed reactions to the idea.
The group Concerned Boise Taxpayers filed a public records request with Boise State and the City of Boise to get documents about the stadium – a project the group is strongly opposed to, but one Boise city leaders hope will break on Americana and Shoreline next year. The group passed some of those records along to KTVB and we confirmed they are legitimate, so we reached out to the city and BSU to help shed a little more light.
The city’s economic development director says they should not have to go to a vote of the people. Here’s how one person running for the city council had to say:
“If a private developer wants to build the stadium, all the power to ’em. But right now the public shouldn’t be taking the risk …”
We agree with this Boise resident:
“I like the idea of a downtown stadium and a multi-use facility. I don’t like – in fact, I very much don’t like – the idea of publicly financing a good part of it and then relying on a private developer through his own efforts to repay the balance of a loan,” said Boise resident Allen Humble. “I don’t want a hole over there on 11 acres.”
Summit Dental Group built their office from the ground up about five years ago. The proposed Boise Sports Park would go right in their front yard and, as current renderings show, onto their property.
“They basically want to bring the exterior wall of the stadium to about where we’re standing,” Dr. Studebaker said as he stood just next to his parking lot, and on his easement. “The stadium plan would be right on top of us.”
The East Boise Youth Baseball program sent out the following email to its participants last week. Is this what we can expect from the city of Boise if they get their pet stadium project? Towing cars?!?!
As you all already know, there is a bit of a parking issue at our Simplot Complex. This is mainly a problem on Saturdays when both baseball, softball, and soccer games are being held all day. The city feels the best solution at this point is to call the police to cite vehicles that are parked illegally and have them towed. We do not have any say in this matter, we do not own the land, we do not control the scheduling of soccer games, and we cannot designate our parking lot or our side of the complex as baseball or softball parking only.
To help avoid losing your vehicle and paying a $218 fine, please park legally in designated parking areas, whether in the parking lots at Simplot or within the legally designated areas along the street. If you do not park in a legal parking spot for these last two weekends of fall ball, you will likely be towed. Whether you park in the main Simplot lots or the nearby schools or churches, you will be walking around 2,000 to 3,000 feet. However, in general, the Simplot parking lots will be your closest option for parking. Another option would be to use a service like Uber or Lyft.
Here is an opinion piece published this week in the Idaho Statesman:
I read with interest the Sept. 26 front-page article about the proposal to build a new stadium along Americana Boulevard in Boise.
You may remember in 1989 I, along with my fellow Ada County Commissioners Vern Bisterfeldt and Mike Johnson, struck a deal with the Boise Hawks which allowed the minor league baseball team to build at their expense the stadium you see today on Ada County fairgrounds land, leased for $1 a year for 99 years as I recall. That contract included land for free parking and a bike path to get additional people there easily and conveniently.
The land they are still using to this day was formerly a sewage lagoon system for the fairgrounds and was converted for their use. The location was judged to be central for fans and easy to get to.
As I understand, the argument for moving the stadium is because the players’ accommodations are inadequate and outdated. At far less expense and at the Hawks owners’ cost, the stadium could be updated without using public funds. It’s been about 30 years and it probably is time for updates. However, the Hawks have operated this program as a business and most businesses plan for improvements through a dedicated line item.
Additionally, there are many years left on the $1-a-year deal with the county, so not requiring an expense of $15.9 million for land paid for by public funds.
Lastly, if the City of Boise is investing $3 million and the Greater Boise Auditorium District is investing $5 million and paying $1.3 million a year for 20 years, why would the city end up owning the stadium? Where are the appropriate studies, supplied by the developer at his expense, to move this project forward, such as an analysis of the economics and the environmental, traffic, noise, light and parking impacts?
The neighbors to this project will see a decrease in their home values due to additional traffic, noise and lights. Several thousand people are impacted for 3,200 to 4,000 people who attend a game on average.
We the people deserve the right to vote on this public funds expenditure. We haven’t heard that we are going to be given that option.
Judy Peavey-Derr is a former Ada County commissioner and former member of the Greater Boise Auditorium District Board of Directors. For more on opposition to the proposed stadium, visit concernedboisetaxpayers.com.
From a post on BallparkDigest.com:
Under the current proposal, construction of the ballpark is expected to cost around $40 million. Greenstone, the Boise Auditorium District, and the City of Boise are expected to contribute roughly $9 million. The remainder of the cost would be covered by a 20-year bond borrowed by Capital City Development Corporation, the city’s urban renewal agency. As the details of the plan continue to be discussed, a group named Concerned Boise Taxpayers is expressing its opposition. The group, formed this summer by Gary Michael, former CEO of Albertsons, and Bill Ilett, former managing partner of the Idaho Stampede NBA D-League franchise, has come out against the plan because of what it sees as a risk to taxpayer money, as The Idaho Statesman reported earlier this week:
Boise State Public Radio ran a story this morning about our group. Click here to listen!
But at the first open house to discuss the proposal Thursday night, officials are likely to get an earful from members of the Concerned Boise Taxpayers. On the group’s website they point to similar projects in cities across the country that have failed, and stuck taxpayers with the bill.
Did you see last night’s story on KTVB?
A group is now organizing, calling themselves the Concerned Boise Taxpayers, and they’re advocating for the city to slow down, be transparent and be responsible. This group says: “We are citizens of Boise, business owners and taxpayers. We support sports, development and a vibrant economy. But we oppose the proposed ‘Boise Stadium Project.'” The group says the stadium is not the right fit for that area, and that taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill.
“Public financing of sports stadiums for minor league teams does not work,” Concerned Boise Taxpayers Co-Chair and former Albertsons CEO Gary Michael told KTVB. “Sports arenas should not be built with public funds.”
“It’s more of an economic issue of slow down, be responsible with public funds,” Concerned Boise Taxpayers Co-Chair and former managing investor of the Idaho Stampede basketball team, Bill Ilett, said.
Are you a subscriber to the Idaho Business Review? If so, you can read their piece about our group’s opposition to the Boise Stadium Project. From the story:
Before any formal submittals have been made regarding a potential downtown Boise baseball and soccer stadium, a local group has raised questions about a stadium’s impact on the Americana Boulevard/Shoreline Drive area. Concerned Boise Taxpayers on July 16 submitted a letter to the Greater Boise Auditorium District asking the district to require an in-depth analysis of …
“It is absolutely the wrong project for that space,” he said. “We’ve got neighborhoods, the best parks, the best Greenbelt. The (neighborhood is) redeveloping privately. It doesn’t need a redevelopment process to do it.”
Michael was joined by several Boise community leaders – including former Idaho Stampede owner Bill Ilett. Ilett’s experience with the Stampede gives him a unique outlook on minor league sports projects. Ilett was the managing investor in the Stampede before selling it to the Utah Jazz – which ultimately moved the team to Salt Lake.
“Major league sports make money and has a huge economic impact,” he said. But on the other hand: “Minor league does not – whether it’s baseball or hockey or basketball – it’s a non-revenue producer. The owners of these teams do a public service to the community. The return on investment is zero.”
Why is Boise trying to make the same mistake made by so many other small cities? From BusinessWeek:
The math is almost always the same when cities build ballparks: Teams keep most of the money spent by fans, and the share that cities get—rents, ticket surcharges, parking fees, cuts of concession sales—is rarely enough to keep up with debt costs, let alone generate a surplus. “You can’t sell enough hot dogs, and get a penny or two in sales tax, to pay off a $50 million stadium,” says Nola Agha, a University of San Francisco professor of sports management, who’s studied minor league financing.
Cities keep trying, but the economic stimulus provided by pro sports teams—the parking lots full of out-of-state license plates, the overflowing restaurants—is more anecdotal than real. Agha looked at 283 cities with minor league teams from 1985 to 2006. While she found modest increases in per capita income in some cases (mostly midsize cities with Triple-A teams), the tax gains rarely covered stadium expenses. In another study, she found that people will sometimes pay a little more in rent, all other things being equal, to be in a town with a minor league team. Again, the increases didn’t justify the levels of public spending. “In general, it doesn’t pay off,” she says. “You can look at the numbers up and down and sideways.”