What is the fate of a stadium project in Downtown Boise? One public official says she’s been told it won’t happen.
“They shared that since the election, the new stadium wasn’t going to be built in Downtown Boise,” Ada County Commissioner Kendra Kenyon told BoiseDev. She held a brief meeting with Jeff Eiseman of Agon Sports – the company that owns the Boise Hawks.
Agon and Greenstone Properties worked in recent years to build a stadium on three different sites. First, at Broadway and Beacon with Boise State. Then at Americana and Shoreline. And, most recently, at Whitewater Park Blvd. and Fairview.
All three deals fell apart.
Now, with a new mayor, a citizen initiative, and changes to Minor League Baseball, the future of a stadium – and of the Hawks themselves – comes into question.
The future of Expo Idaho
Right now, the Hawks play at the aging Memorial Stadium, on land owned by Ada County. The Hawks hold a 50-year lease to the ballpark that runs until the 2030s. The Hawks’ owners paid the lease amount upfront in 1989 – $1 per year.
A public records request by BoiseDev before Christmas showed the meeting between Kenyon and Eiseman.
Eiseman hoped to be named to a citizens advisory committee on the future of the Expo Idaho property – which includes the current stadium. But Kenyon told Eiseman that the Board of Commissioners decided that they didn’t want anyone on that advisory group to “have personal interest” in the property’s future.
Agon/Greenstone’s PR firm refused repeated attempts to ask questions of the organizations’ officials. Eiseman also did not return a message sent directly to him.
“(Eiseman) wanted to know what our plans are for the Expo Idaho property, and I told them it’s not up to the board – but up to the public,” Kenyon said.
What the Hawks ownership group plans to do now that the Boise project is apparently off remains unclear. If it wants to be part of a planned revamp of Expo Idaho, Kenyon stresses they’ll have to be both patient – and transparent.
“They are going to have be patient and go through the process that we are going through,” Kenyon said. “They would have an opportunity to talk to the committee.”
Kenyon said Eiseman told her they “had funding lined up” through the Greater Boise Auditorium District. Pat Rice, Executive Director of GBAD told BoiseDev this is not true.
“The board was never asked for anything specific,” Rice said. “No proposal was ever really made.”
Minor League’s future; Soccer’s potential
The ownership group also could face headwinds from Minor League Baseball. It told teams not to make any changes or longterm agreements beyond 2021. The New York Times also reports the Northwest League, which the Hawks compete in, could see teams eliminated, and the league could move to a full-season format.
Agon Sports said early this year it had an agreement to bring a USL soccer team to Boise. But, the Idaho Press reported at the time, the deal for the team stood on the shoulders of a new stadium. It remains unclear if the team deal would extend to a stadium outside of Boise.
The future of Whitewater Park and Fairview
Right now, Greenstone Properties owns a single small sliver of land near its dreamt-of stadium in Boise’s west downtown – the land under the Symposion. It looked to buy a large tract of land nearby owned by Roundhouse (formerly LocalConstruct), but according to records obtained by the Idaho Press, the City of Boise said that won’t happen.
Roundhouse CEO Casey Lynch told BoiseDev they haven’t heard much of anything on the property.
“We have had virtually no communication from the stadium developer, the Mayor’s office, or anyone at the City over the last twelve months with respect to plans for the stadium,” he said via email. “We were not privy to any of the planning for the stadium.”
Roundtree Chevrolet used to occupy the site but closed in 1997. A number of proposals for the large tract of ground came and went over the years. At one point, the City of Boise acquired the site for a new headquarters for Boise Police Department. The city later scrapped those plans and BPD moved to west Boise.
A concept designed by Roundhouse in 2017 showed the site including residential, retail, a “living street” and more. The site is bound by a development agreement with the City of Boise, which the city council extended to keep a possible deal with Greenstone alive.
“Our only interest in the matter is to fulfill our obligations under the development agreement should Greenstone not close on the property, which it appears they are not,” Lynch said.