BSU once again open to joining sports park project

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BOISE — Over a year after deciding to step out on its own to build a baseball stadium, Boise State University is ready to negotiate to join the proposed Boise sports park project and share a new stadium with the Boise Hawks.

In a press release Monday afternoon, the school laid out a series of requirements the city of Boise and Atlanta-based developer Greenstone Properties would have to meet in order for the school to join back up with the partnership. This includes priority scheduling for the team, partial ownership of the park by BSU, an artificial playing surface and shared revenues from the park.

The stadium project is proposed to include a combination of a baseball and soccer stadium alongside a mixed-use residential development in Boise’s West End, including housing, shopping and parking.

“Boise State’s priority all along has been to build a first-class facility for our newly-launched baseball program,” Boise State director of athletics Curt Apsey said in a press release. “We want to make sure we thoroughly explore all of our options and make the best long-term decision for the university and our program.”

Documents obtained by the Idaho Press through a public records request detail the school’s requests from the developer, which includes a maximum yearly lease payment of $360,000 per year and priority scheduling for 12 fall baseball games and 25 regular season home games and practices. Under the terms requested by BSU, the school would also own at least half of the stadium in conjunction with the city once the 25-year lease is up.

The school is also requesting 10 women’s soccer games be held at the sports park annually, with “best efforts” made so the games are not moved off site because of other events.

BSU also requests an exclusive minimum 1,200-square-foot locker room with an additional 1,000 square feet for office space and storage to which the university would have naming rights.

Under the terms, BSU would receive 100 percent of the ticket revenue from its games and would negotiate on revenue from concessions with Boise Professional Baseball LLC, which is associated with the Boise Hawks. The school would also get 100 percent of the revenue from renting suites during games. There would also be 75 parking spaces reserved for BSU use, but the proceeds from parking spaces beyond that would go to the Hawks’ parent company, Agon Sports and Entertainment.

Until the stadium is constructed, BSU would be able to play at Memorial Stadium in Garden City, where the Hawks currently play, beginning this fall. The university would be able to renew this contract up through the spring of 2022 in case the facility is not built.

Boise Professional Baseball would pay for all of the maintenance and three field conversions from baseball to soccer for BSU annually. If more than three are required, the school would pay for it.

The documents say the Hawks are expected to play 38 regular season games at the stadium, along with another 16 United Soccer League regular season games and two exhibitions.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter released a statement Monday cheering the school’s decision to re-enter negotiations. A letter from Bieter to BSU’s interim president Martin Schimpf said the city and Greenstone will work to incorporate the requests into a final agreement to “bring this public-private partnership to fruition.”

“Rather than having two facilities in downtown Boise, the City and Boise State agree that the public will benefit from collaboration and partnership between our organizations on this project, as well as others,” Bieter said in the March 15 letter. “This public amenity will facilitate further private investment in Boise, add much needed housing, and create jobs for our city.”

Although the school has announced these terms, university officials say negotiations are still ongoing for an on-campus stadium south of campus. The Idaho Press first reported in October Greenstone Properties developer Chris Schoen met with Schimpf to reopen negotiations about the project after the school decided under then-President Bob Kustra to build its own stadium in 2017.

“Nic – with (Kustra) no longer at Boise State, does it make sense to talk to the new interim guy about a joint facility?” Schoen wrote in the Oct. 15 email to Boise Economic Development Director Nic Miller. “They are getting ready to find out how expensive a new stadium will be.”

In a statement, Agon Sports and Entertainment President Jeff Eiseman was enthusiastic about the possible partnership.

“There is no question we can build a terrific public amenity that will truly be a win-win for the entire community and Bronco Nation,” the statement said. “Not only will it be a great place for Boise State athletics, but there are also the cost efficiencies that such a partnership would offer.”

A new president will soon be announced for Boise State. The State Board of Education is set to meet April 23 and announce its selection afterward.

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