Baseball games are usually calm, deliberative affairs.
The first step in the process to build a stadium in Downtown Boise was anything but.
A crowd of several dozen people met with a single representative of Greenstone Properties Tuesday night, stirred up by Concerned Boise Taxpayers and others.
They weren’t happy.
(Editor’s note: I wasn’t able to attend since I’m currently working at Stanford. The account below is based upon the Statesman video).
One man shouted his frustration from just a few feet away.
“They’ve got a library that is waiting on $20 million of philanthropic funds to build it. You’re going to build a stinking baseball stadium before you build a library? You don’t give a damn!”
“I’d like to make the point that the traffic is already — herr — I can’t even describe what it’s like. You’re going to get people going up Americana…” one woman yelled, while another woman drowned her out “in a single lane!”
The Greenstone rep responded calmly.
“First of all, there are multiple access points out of this neighborhood…” which was quickly drowned out by boos and jeers from the crowd.
Many in the crowd asked why Boise Mayor Dave Bieter was not in attendance, which may show a misunderstanding of the meeting from those in attendance. Wardle again responded by noting this is just a neighborhood meeting. The mayor isn’t traditionally present at these types of meetings.
Many questions went unanswered as the crowd shouted over Wardle. One resident calmly asked why the College of Western Idaho site that was considered for a time couldn’t be used. Wardle wasn’t able to answer more than a few words before being shouted down.
“CWI owns it and controls it. We explored…” And that’s where it ended before Wardle was yelled at.
Resident: “Are you able to answer the question of why here. Why in the middle of the city?
Wardle: “Why not?”
Another resident: “Congestion, traffic… “
Wardle: “Why don’t we want a vibrant city?”
Third resident: “It’s not a big enough city!”
And then, again the crowd devolved into boos and groans.
Wardle tried to press on.
“Why don’t we want a vibrant downtown with proximity to the Greenbelt.”
Fourth resident: “We have a vibrant downtown.”
The crowd asked a laundry list of questions. Wanting to know why other sites were not considered. Worried about folks parking on the rim. And more.
“Baseball attendance is dropping like a rock. And no one cares about soccer.”
Wardle: “Hawks baseball attendance is up 25% over the past five years. USL soccer is drawing between five- and ten-thousand fans for each site it currently has.”
“How much money are you going to be making personally off of our property tax dollars being increased for a project that no one wants here.
Wardle: “Zero. I’m the attorney for the developer…”
The crowd again shouted him down.
When folks asked about the lack of transit options, Wardle said he hoped residents in attendance would advocate for better bus and transit options.
“I’m not fighting city hall for you,” a woman replied.
And on it went.
The next step for Greenstone if it decides to move forward will be to appear in front of Boise’s Planning and Zoning Commission.