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New home for Boise Hawks? Swirl of new info: Court action, Expo Idaho pitch, McLean weighs in, more

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Former Boise City Council Member Scot Ludwig told BoiseDev he is putting together a legal filing related to a petition Boise voters approved in November requiring a future vote on a stadium in Boise.

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The news, first reported by the Idaho Statesman, had been rumored for months.

“I am organizing a Writ of Mandamus to the Idaho Supreme Court on the Petition related to the Stadium but not for any purpose other than the wording infringes on the fundamental rights of private property owners in Idaho to develop their own property with private money,” Ludwig told BoiseDev.

He said he thinks the wording in the petition is unlawful under Idaho’s constitution.

“I fully support the spirit of the Voters desire to have significant input in the event a Stadium project is considered again,” Ludwig said.

Scot Ludwig
Scot Ludwig makes his final remarks as a Boise City Council member last week as new mayor Lauren McLean looks on. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev
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Ludwig said he didn’t consult with Greenstone or Agon on his effort.

Boise Working Together, which spearheaded the petition, pushed back on Ludwig’s coming action.

“This ‘legal trial balloon’ by a former city councilman who’s just returned to his developer roots is tone-deaf,” Boise Working Together said in a statement. “It fails to hear the clear direction from the ballot box and the expressed intentions of a new Boise mayor and her administration, which today said they wish to reflect the priorities of the vast majority of our community.”

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BWT asserts that private development venues using private funds are not prohibited by the successful petition. It passed by a vote of 75.2%, while a separate but similar effort on the Boise library passed with 69.1% of voters approving.

Repeated attempts to get a comment from either Greenstone Properties or Agon Sports failed. Greenstone principal Chris Schoen did not respond to our request for comment and wouldn’t agree to an interview request through an intermediary.

[Public record shows Hawks owner shelved plan for Downtown Boise stadium site]

The Boise Hakws currently play in the aging Memorial Stadium in Garden City. They have a lease with the county that runs into the 2030s for $1 year. In prior versions of the project, Greenstone proposed a mixed-use development with a new home for the Hawks, a soccer team, retail, restaurant, and condo uses.

Expo Idaho? Chamber CEO speaks up for Hawks

Expo Idaho
Potential members of a citizen advisory committee for the future of Expo Idaho in Boise talk about their ideas. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

Bill Connors, President and CEO of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, appeared at the Expo Idaho Citizens Advisory Committee formation meeting Wednesday. He said in the public meeting he represented the Chamber’s 2,000 members – and specifically mentioned the Boise Hawks a few times. Connors and the Chamber helped found “Boise United for Sports and Entertainment,” a pro-stadium group.

During a session discussing what questions members had, Connors spoke up for the Hawks.

“The Hawks are one of my members. What’s the vision for them? Is there an opportunity?,” he said. “I’m a bit of a minor league baseball kook. I know a little bit about what works and what doesn’t.”

[Ballpark developer looks to sell bar property it bought near hoped-for stadium]

Ada County Commissioner Kendra Kenyon told BoiseDev she has had not additional contact with Hawks or Greenstone reps beyond what we previously reported. She emphasized that the future of Expo Idaho will play out in public.

“They know that they will be able to present to the newly formed committee during that process,” Kenyon said of Agon & Greenstone.

GBAD still a factor in a stadium?

Connors also mentioned that the land falls inside the Greater Boise Auditorium District. He said the county needs more places for events for the economic vitality of the region.

“We don’t have enough venues as it is,” Connors said. “The convention center is going 24/7 as it is. Expo Idaho is going 24/7. Keeping those opportunities going – we have to keep those venues alive. there’s a trend out there – cities and counties are looking at their own public land and how can you activate it and return some value to the taxpayers.”

Expo Idaho falls within the GBAD boundary. The agency can use its revenue – primarily from hotel taxes – on venues defined by Idaho State Code, including stadiums and convention centers.

The stadium developers asked GBAD to discuss working together formally this summer.

Former Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, a proponent of the stadium during his time in office told BoiseDev last fall that the use of GBAD funds for a stadium has “been in discussion for years.”

Greater Boise Auditorium District board chair Kristin Muchow confirmed to BoiseDev that she met with reps for the stadium yesterday.

“I actually had coffee with them yesterday as they wanted to touch base while they were in town,” Muchow said. “As far as I know, I don’t believe they contacted other board members or Pat (Rice, GBAD executive director).”

McLean: Not a priority

New Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said the city will not be involved in any effort moving forward.

“It is not a priority of mine,” she said. “I will make sure there are no city dollars spent in the stadium. What is a priority is affordable housing. We had money earmarked for far too long that was earmarked for a developer for a stadium when we have true affordability needs in this city. I’ve said that that $3 million dollars (needs to go to housing), and I will ask council to approve that to be put toward our housing fund.”

Concerned Taxpayers still concerned

Concerned Boise Taxpayers, which challenged the stadium at its second proposed site on American Blvd. in Boise, and expressed concern about the third site in Downtown Boise’s West End continues to be skeptical of a potential fourth try at Expo Idaho, according to board member Bill Ilett.

“It could be a better location if it happened to end up at the fairgrounds, ut not using property tax dollars,” he said. “We are still have concerned if it is GBAD funds. Those are tax dollars, that’s coming from hotel tax money.”

He said he doesn’t think a stadium at the Expo Idaho site at Chinden Blvd. and Glenwood St. would “not create any hotel room visits.”

“I was in the basketball business almost 20 years,” he said, referring to his interest in the now-defunct Idaho Stampede. “About the only hotel rooms we ever sold were a few scouts came to town, a few executives – hoards of people are not going to come to watch a minor league sports franchise.”

Last fall, Minor League Baseball told affiliates to put a hold on new projects – including facilities – according to the New York Times.

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Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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