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St. Luke’s, Boise Hawks announce deal for downtown Boise stadium

The Boise Hawks owners propose a stadium near downtown Boise at American Boulevard and Shoreline Drive. Image courtesy of Boise Hawks.

The Boise Hawks owners propose a stadium near downtown Boise at Americana Boulevard and Shoreline Drive. Image courtesy of Boise Hawks.

St. Luke’s Health System has agreed to sell 11 acres of land at Americana Boulevard and Shoreline Drive to the owners of the Boise Hawks minor league baseball to build a downtown stadium for the Hawks and a professional soccer team.

St. Luke’s, Agon Sports and Entertainment, Greenstone Properties and the city of Boise jointly announced the deal March 27.

The acreage includes the former Kmart property that now houses the St. Luke’s Business Center and includes all the land bounded by Americana, Shoreline, Spa Street and 14th Street along with the Shoreline Center property across Shoreline Drive and the former Beehive Salon and Total Woman Fitness properties across Spa.

St. Luke’s is making an effort to move its employees closer to its main downtown hospital, and would move its business center workers to the Washington Group Plaza. St. Luke’s is in a sales and purchase agreement to acquire Washington Group Plaza, with the sale scheduled to close in April 2018, but the closing could be earlier, said Anita Kissée, a St. Luke’s spokeswoman.

The St. Luke's-Boise Hawks deal includes the former Kmart property (center), the Shoreline Center (left bottom) and the former Total Woman Fitness and Beehive Salon properties (top right). Image courtesy of St. Luke's Health System.

The St. Luke’s-Boise Hawks deal includes the former Kmart property (center), the Shoreline Center (left bottom) and the former Total Woman Fitness and Beehive Salon properties (top right). Image courtesy of St. Luke’s Health System.

A sales date for the Americana/Shoreline property is unknown. The assessed values of the combined 10.94 acres of St. Luke’s properties is $14.2 million, according to Ada County Assessor records.
“Next is negotiating the details of the agreement,” Kissée said.

Agon Sports, which owns the Boise Hawks, and Greenstone Properties, also owned by an Agon partner, wants to build a 5,000-fixed-seat stadium for the Hawks for $40 million to $45 million. With bleachers on the field, capacity could be expanded to 7,500 for soccer, said Jeff Eiseman, president of Agon Sports.

The United Soccer League has told the Idaho Business Review it has keen interest to have a team in Boise. The USL is a second level professional league directly below Major League Soccer.

“We would like to open a stadium in February 2019,” Eiseman said in an interview. “Working backwards, we would have to start construction in the next six to 10 months.”

The stadium would be part of a larger, $200-million mixed-use development proposed by Agon Sports and Greenstone with commercial, office and residential.

The Boise Hawks owners are not building a baseball stadium. They want a stadium that is optimal for baseball and soccer. They brought on Tad Shultz, president of Boston-based International Stadia Design, to design the Boise stadium. Shultz also designed the stadium now under construction for the other minor league baseball team that Agon Sports owns, the Augusta GreenJackets in Augusta, Ga.

“When the stadium is used for soccer, the left field wall pads are removed to expose an open-air Club Lounge at field elevation,” Shultz said in a news release. “It will be filled with passionate fans as players pass through on their exit from the locker room to the pitch.”

Along with finalizing the sale with St. Luke’s, Agon Sports still needs to work out agreements with the city of Boise, the Capital City Development Corp. and the Greater Boise Auditorium District before construction moves forward.

“There are still some milestones to achieve on the way,” Eiseman said. “The next milestones are with the three government entities.”

Agon Sports likely will seek $41 million in stadium bonds from CCDC, which has the authority to issue bonds backed by tax increments generated by new tax revenues.

CCDC has already done preliminary work to create a new urban renewal district in the area that could be in place by 2018, said John Brunelle, CCDC’s executive director. CCDC would be the bond issuers with tax increment gains generated by Greenstone, Brunelle said in an interview. “They would need to create the value to generate tax revenue.”

CCDC would issue a 20-year bond, during which time CCDC would own the stadium, just as CCDC owned the Ada County Courthouse until that bond was paid off in 2016 and CCDC now owns Boise Centre East. Both projects were built with CCDC bonds.

CCDC is the city’s urban renewal agency.

“What’s nice about working with sports-oriented developers is they take the fan experience into account,” Brunelle said. “Public event venues have been proven to be beneficial in an urban setting. They have to be done in a certain way. They need to be active as many nights as possible.”

The Boise Hawks season runs June to Labor Day and the USL soccer season is March to October. Concerts and other family events will also be scheduled, Eiseman said.

GBAD Executive Director Pat Rice said the district can “participate” in the stadium. GBAD owns and operates the Boise Centre.

“Nobody has said exactly this is what we want from the district,” Rice said. “Can we participate with cash? Maybe. There’s certainly been a suggestion of cash. Maybe we run the concessions. Do we help operate it? There’s a lot of generalities out there.”

Boise City Council member Scot Ludwig acted as a middle man during the negotiations among the parties.

“The Boise Hawks, Greenstone Properties, and St. Luke’s Health System have stepped-up in their own respective and important way to make this multi-use Stadium closer to reality,” Ludwig said in a news release.” Now it is time for the city of Boise, CCDC, and GBAD to do the same in keeping with our commitment to preserve and enhance the quality of life Boisean’s cherish as we grow and seek new economic development opportunities.”

Boise Mayor David Bieter has long sought a downtown stadium.

“This public space has the potential to be an epicenter for athletics, festivals and community events all our residents can enjoy and celebrate,” Bieter said in a news release.  “With retail, restaurants and office space, this multi-use urban stadium and surrounding development will be the cornerstone of our growing River Street neighborhood in Downtown.”

Baseball and soccer will be equals at downtown Boise stadium

The Boise Hawks propose a stadium ideally suited for soccer and baseball. Image courtesy of Boise Hawks.

The Boise Hawks propose a stadium ideally suited for soccer and baseball. Image courtesy of Boise Hawks.

The Boise Hawks envision building a stadium equally for two sports. On baseball nights, it will feel like a baseball stadium. On soccer nights, the hallmarks of a soccer stadium will be in place – not the common dynamic of a soccer stadium shoehorned onto a baseball field.

Agon Sports and Entertainment and Greenstone Development brought on Tad Shultz, president of International Stadia Design, to create a home field for soccer and baseball.

“The home plate entrance is designed as a new Boise piazza,” Shultz said in a news release. “It’s a living room for the city to hold concerts, events, and festivals.

“When the stadium is used for soccer,” he continued, “the left field wall pads are removed to expose an open-air Club Lounge at field elevation.  It will be filled with passionate fans as players pass through on their exit from the locker room to the pitch, directly on axis with the Hawks Nest tower across the park.

The Hawks Nest is beyond the right field fence for baseball and aligned directly for soccer.

“The 14th Street elevation of the ballpark is the Hawk’s Nest, anchored by the central, multi-level tower and dynamic “nest” structure,” Shultz said. “It is centered in the soccer pitch.  An open viewing terrace runs from the nest down the first base line and is conceived as flex space.”

About Teya Vitu

Teya Vitu is an Idaho Business Review reporter, covering commercial real estate, construction, transportation and whatever else may intrigue him in the moment. Join me on Twitter at @IBR_TeyaVitu.