The owners of the Boise Hawks baseball team would like to have a downtown Boise stadium ideal for soccer and baseball ready for the United Soccer League season starting in spring 2020.
The open questions: Where would a downtown stadium be built and when would construction start?
The only agreed-to date in play right now is October, at which time the sale is set to close on the 11-acre St. Luke Health System property at Americana Boulevard and Shoreline Drive to Greenstone Properties.
Greenstone managing director Chris Schoen has proposed for that site a 5,000-fixed-seat soccer/baseball stadium and accompanying commercial-retail-residential complex. Schoen remains confident a stadium will be complete in time for the 2020 soccer and baseball seasons.
But since November, at the encouragement of Boise Mayor David Bieter, Schoen has considered moving his project to the proposed College of Western Idaho Boise campus site at Main Street and Whitewater Park Boulevard. That’s when someone suggested to Bieter that Schoen and CWI swap properties. The mayor presented the idea to Schoen and CWI President Bert Glandon.
Schoen warmed up to the idea of moving his $70 million stadium-residential-office-retail project to the CWI site, but in early March was still evaluating the CWI site.
“For the CWI site to move forward requires the involvement of a major foundation,” Schoen said in an email. “The mayor is on board but waiting on the determination from the foundation.” He didn’t elaborate on what role a foundation would play at the CWI site.
Glandon also warmed up to the Idaho of possibly moving the CWI Boise campus to the former Kmart building that now houses the St. Luke’s Business Center at Americana and Shoreline.
Glandon said with the 2016 failure of a bond election, he does not foresee construction starting on a Boise campus for five years. The St. Luke’s property would give CWI an existing campus.
But Schoen has made no formal presentation to the CWI Board of Trustees, Glandon noted. CWI has not evaluated the St. Luke site for how it would work out as a community college campus.
“Nothing is going to be quick,” Glandon said. “Is this going to be sustainable for us in the long term?…Until we have some detail, that’s a lot of work to figure out ‘what if.’ Until we have more substantive detail to decide (on the matter), we’re neutral on everything.”
Last fall, Schoen that indicated a $1 million-plus deposit to secure a USL team was expected in November, and when the CWI idea surfaced, Schoen indicated a property swap with CWI would need to be “buttoned up” in 30 days.
Schoen is in close touch with USL and he is co-owner of the Boise Hawks baseball team, which would also play at the downtown stadium.
USL wants a team in Boise. USL currently has 33 teams with six more announced and intentions for 2020 to be the last year for league expansion, though teams in Chicago and Oakland may come onboard after that. The league is one rung below Major League Soccer, the top U.S. professional soccer league.
“Boise continues to be a market of great interest to the USL, checking off several boxes that we look for in an expansion city,” USL officials said in a prepared statement. “We are finalizing the deal with the ownership group, which includes details on a venue development.”
Even though CWI has not been formally approached about a property swap, Schoen, who is under contract to buy the St. Luke’s property, would like to close the St. Luke sale in October and “simultaneously swap a portion of it in exchange for the entirety of the CWI site.” He said the CWI site does not require rezoning and does not require the creation of a new urban renewal zone, so it would be possible to start construction in 2018.
Nampa-based CWI leases several locations in Boise. Talk of a property swap comes just as a couple lease extensions are pending with most the other Boise leases up in two or three years, Glandon said.
“The board of trustees remains committed to finding the most efficient and sustainable Boise property we can,” Glandon said. “We welcome any interested property owner to make a presentation.”
The St. Luke’s property at Americana offers 138,573 square feet in four buildings. This includes the former 95,000-square-foot Kmart building 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 31,373-square-foot Shoreline Center property across Shoreline Drive and the former Beehive Salon (1,200 square feet) and Total Woman Fitness (11,000 square feet).
Schoen initially proposed for the St. Luke’s site a 5,000-fixed-seat stadium overlooked by a four-story, 60-unit apartment-and-retail structure and a 150,000-square-foot office building. Between Americana and the Boise River, he outlined 40,000 square feet of retail and 240 apartments.
“It would be a similar program to the other site: office, retail, residential and other potential uses that would provide TIF revenue to pay back the city bonds,” Schoen said. “Same strategies, same basic components. That site has good advantages. (It has) better visibility from the major arteries into town and better access. Disadvantage is it is not as close to the center city and not as walkable.”
Schoen seeks a $27 million bond from the Capital City Development Corp., the city’s urban renewal agency, that would be funded with tax-increment financing paid back with increased property tax revenue from the project.
Boise State seeks a baseball stadium site on campus
Boise State University turned down a chance to field its new baseball team in 2020 in the downtown stadium in favor of building its own baseball stadium on campus.
The university is evaluating several on-campus locations to build a baseball stadium, but no timeline is in place to select a site or start construction, sports information director Joe Nickell said.
“We would hope to have something in place for the first season in 2020,” Nickell said. “We’re not going to rush into anything to make sure we have something by 2020.”
If the Boise State baseball stadium is not ready for the 2020 season, the university will find an alternate baseball stadium on a temporary basis, he said.
A stadium size, design, cost and funding all depend on selecting a stadium site. Boise State hopes to establish a location and start construction “as soon as possible,” but Nickell stressed there is no defined timeline.
Boise State on Oct. 26 walked away from a proposed public-private soccer/baseball stadium at Shoreline Drive and Americana Boulevard with Boise State President Bob Kustra insisting the nascent baseball team should play on the university campus.
The university expects to have a timeline for site selection and building a stadium ready to present to the Idaho State Board of Education in June, Boise State spokesman Greg Hahn said.