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Scheels spent years looking at Idaho. Records indicate it didn’t land the financial incentives it hoped for

BoiseDev Exclusive

Scheels, a large sporting goods store with a Ferris wheel inside, will open a new location at Ten Mile Crossing in Meridian.

Scheels often works with cities to garner incentive packages to open in an area. Earlier this year, the sporting goods store opened in Colorado Springs, Colo. The Colorado Gazette reported the chain picked the area over the Boise area because it worked out a deal to get ​​$200,000 annually in fees paid.

Not long after opening in Colorado, Scheels announced it was coming to Meridian.

[Sporting goods store so big it has a Ferris wheel inside set along I-84]

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Coming to Meridian

In addition to its signature Ferris wheel, Scheels also has a giant saltwater aquarium, arcade, candy store, and a lot more. The sporting goods store is expected to bring more than 400 jobs to the area. Simply put: Scheels attracts large crowds. And as BoiseDev reported here, Meridian had been working to bring Scheels here since 2017.

However, newly obtained records by BoiseDev show emails from early January 2017 between company CEO Steve Scheel and former Meridian Mayor Tammy De Weerd, where Scheel appears to re-initiate contact about bringing the store to Meridian.

“Scheels is once again looking closely at your fine city, and a couple of our board members are making a trip to the Boise/Eagle market in the near future,” Scheel wrote in the email.

Scheels said it had been looking to locate a store in the Treasure Valley for a decade.

Incentives

BoiseDev obtained documents from the City of Meridian under Idaho’s public records act. Officials said Scheels hoped to obtain a number of incentives to build a store in Meridian Officials indicated they couldn’t offer incentives like some other locations. Still, city officials tried to think of other ways to motivate the company to build in Meridian.

“Just FYI… Scheels has not located here because we have not been able to meet their incentives wishes or compare to their (tax increment financing) package in Utah,” Brenda Sherwood, the city’s former economic development administrator, wrote.

She continued in the email, saying the Department of Commerce could explore possible tax reimbursement incentives and said she suggested the city look at an ‘offer’ from their community match fund.

BoiseDev reached out to Matt Borud with the Idaho Department of Commerce to find out what perks, if any, Scheels received to open in Meridian. Borud said the state did not provide incentives and “did not engage on an incentive package for Scheels.”

We also reached out to Meridian Development Corporation, which said they have “not been a part of any of these conversations.”

During 2017, there was also a short email chain with Tommy Ahlquist, then the president of Gardner Company, who chatted with former Mayor Tammy De Weerd about offering different incentives to Scheels.

“I would love to hear more from Scheels. We spent a significant amount of time, and it would transform the city. They are very difficult to pin down on exactly what they would need. We offered free land, (urban renewal district) money, and (tax reimbursement) money, and they passed. Just let me know how to reengage,” Ahlquist wrote.

Pause in communication

City emails abruptly stopped communication with Scheels in November 2017 and later resumed in 2019.

In August 2019, Steve Scheel emailed Mayor De Weerd, saying they would ‘love’ to build a new Scheels store on Eagle Rd. and Fairview, on land owned by the Kleiner family to the west of the Village at Meridian across Eagle Rd.

“We have two of our best new Scheels in Overland Park, KS, and Johnstown. CO,” Scheels wrote while referring to the company’s development partners on the projects. “I hope that your staff in Meridian will listen closely to what they are thinking, as they have been very good partners for the cities of Overland Park and Johnstown and very good development partners with Scheels. Their developments are absolutely first class, and we are proud to be the main anchor in each. If they can work out the details, Scheels would love to anchor their Fairview and Eagle development.”

The communication again stopped in 2019, and there was no record of any communication on the topic until news broke earlier this month that the store would be built at Ten Mile Crossing.

Scheels won’t comment

BoiseDev reached out to Scheels to ask if they received incentives to come to Meridian. The company opted not to comment.Though officials and records from Meridian, the State of Idaho, and the Meridian Development Corp. indicate Scheels did not land incentives for the Idaho stores, Scheels didn’t comment.

“Scheels is a privately held, employee-owned company, and per company policy, we never publicly disclose any financial details regarding our business.”

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Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Meridian and McCall. Contact her at autum@boisedev.com.

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