BOISE — Professional soccer is headed to the Treasure Valley, but only if the long-discussed Boise Sports Park project comes to fruition.
Agon Sports & Entertainment, the owner of the Boise Hawks, is scheduled to announce Friday that it has reached an agreement with the United Soccer League to bring a soccer club to Boise. Agon is owned and managed by Chris Schoen, the developer of the Boise Sports Park project and the nearby mixed-use development possibly slated for the intersection of Main Street and Whitewater Park Boulevard in Boise’s West End.
“We’ve said all along that professional soccer is a foundational element of this project and key to its success,” Schoen said in a press release to the Idaho Press. “There is tremendous community support for bringing a pro soccer team to Boise and we’re pleased the USL has done its due diligence and recognizes the immense potential of a franchise in this market. We look forward to working through the process of siting and permitting a new sports park and ultimately beginning work on this transformational community asset.”
Boise’s team will be in the USL Championship League, which will feature 36 teams in its 2019 season including the Portland Timbers 2, Reno 1869 FC, Sacramento Republic FC and the Seattle Sounders FC 2.
The controversial sports park has been a topic of conversation in the city for over a year-and-a-half. The combined baseball and soccer stadium was originally planned for the intersection of Americana Boulevard and Shoreline Drive but was delayed and moved to the West End last summer. Schoen is in talks with Los Angeles-based developer LocalConstruct to acquire a large parcel in the area for the project, but that sale is still pending.
City spokesman Mike Journee said the city is excited about the new franchise possibly coming to Boise.
“It’s great that this soccer franchise has been secured, and Boise’s soccer community, which is considerable, will be very (excited) that we could be having a professional soccer team come,” Journee said. “It’s evidence of what a facility like a potential Boise Sports Park could mean for our community, and we’re excited about the possibility.”
Schoen and the city have been in talks about a public-private partnership to build the stadium in recent years. Currently, there is $3 million in the city’s fiscal year 2019 budget to go toward the stadium, but since Greenstone moved the project to the West End and the planning process started over, there has not been an official proposal for a partnership before City Council.
Members of the soccer community have expressed excitement about a professional team in the area. Bill Taylor, president of the Idaho Youth Soccer Association, said the possibility will boost the soccer community’s profile in the city even more.
“Soccer is one of the most popular sports in America right now, and it’s encouraging to see that the USL is willing and eager to put a franchise here,” Taylor said in a press release. “Having a pro team we can call our own will energize the soccer community, create greater opportunities for our kids, and benefit the local economy.”
USL is based in Tampa and counts more than 100 clubs in its membership.
The stadium would also be a new home for the Boise Hawks, a short-season professional baseball team and affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. The team currently calls Memorial Stadium on the grounds of the Western Idaho Fairgrounds off Glenwood Avenue home. The stadium opened three decades ago and regularly sees high attendance at games despite the aging structure.