Monday, April 2, 2012

Event Center board busy behind the scenes

An artist's rendering of what the Idaho Falls Event Center might look like.
No ground has been broken, but things are moving ahead with the Idaho Falls Event Center.

"I get asked all the time what's going on," said Bob Everhart, a member of the Idaho Falls Auditorium District. "I tell them nothing you can see, but there's a lot happening."

The district's board of directors wants to be certain their proposal has everything they want they come up with a price tag, he said. If having everything turns out to be too expensive, they will start with the basics and have a plan that can be expanded in phases.

One thing the center will have is an ice rink for a professional hockey franchise, which the directors say will be the "anchor tenant." The ice will be covered for trade shows or entertainment.

"We're looking at having our first hockey game in 2014," Everhart said.

In May 2011, Idaho Falls voters approved forming an auditorium district and a 5 percent surcharge on local hotel guests, estimated at $1.5 million a year. Along with fees and ticket sales, that money will be used to run the event center, to be located on 20.5 acres in the Snake River Landing development, whose operator, Ball Ventures, has donated the land.

Everhart said they plan to put out a request for proposals and hire an operator within 60 days. Once ground it broken, most likely in 2013, the project will take 15 to 16 months to finish.

To finance the construction, Everhart said they are looking into having investment grade bonds issued. Rather than going to voters, this can be done with a judge's approval. "The auditorium district in Boise just did it. We're following their lead," Everhart said.

CRSA, the Idaho Falls architectural firm working with the district, has been testing soil to determine what it will cost to excavate the site, which is just south of Pancheri Drive on the east side of Interstate 15. Negotiations with the New Sweden Irrigation District have to be taken care of as well (any time there's an alteration to a canal bank, such as a bridge, it requires the operator's permission.)

As far as design goes, CRSA is working with Sink Combs Dethlefs, a Denver architect that specializes in event facilities and sports arenas.