December 5, 2022
Bannock County–County Commissioner Terrel Tovey believes it’s time to bring professional sports to the Gate City. Last year, he began discussions with Jeff Eiseman of Azalea Sports Ventures about the possibility of building a multi-use professional stadium in Pocatello, to be the home stadium of a Pioneer League baseball team. Eiseman presented the resulting ideas to the Bannock County Commissioners at their business meeting on November 29.
Eiseman feels Pocatello would be a good fit for such a venue, due to its location and to the good weather we enjoy for much of the year. He envisions the facility as “a mini expo center” that would be be suitable for everything in the sports and entertainment world. While the field would be designed to accommodate a wide variety of sports, from professional baseball to lacrosse to soccer to major high school football games, the center would also be suitable for concerts, festivals, and other community events. The inclusion of indoor components, such as a 400-person banquet hall, would allow the stadium to be used year-round.
Eiseman proposed that Bannock County should build and own the stadium. He pledged a 20-year contract for the league to pay $300,000 annually ($150,000 in rent and $150,000 in naming rights), for a total of six million dollars over the course of the contract. He also pledged that the team would manage and pay for every aspect of operations and routine maintenance over the course of the contract, and asked that the stadium be treated as a public building with respect to utilities.
The estimated cost for the stadium is twenty million dollars. Commissioner Jeff Hough explained that the county’s commitment will be limited to eight million dollars of their American Rescue Plan Act allotment. He said the remaining funding is expected from other entities, though he offered no details about who those other entities might be.
Both Eiseman and Tovey expressed their desire to see the Commission move quickly to approve this proposal. Eiseman explained that the League will be meeting this month, and hopes to hear an update on the local situation. He says the League is “prepared to honor their commitment” and would like to break ground as soon as weather permits, with a goal of playing the first game in the new stadium in May of 2024.
Commissioner Tovey said, “If we want to actually compete, and be other than just a bedroom community for Idaho Falls, this is what we’re gonna do. And so I would highly suggest, and you know I have six weeks left before I’m gone…I would say we need to do everything in our power to make this happen, because if not, we just need to be complacent and understand that jobs will not come to Pocatello, they will go to Idaho Falls and we all better just get ready to have good commuter cars and go shopping up there.”
Commissioner Ernie Moser pointed out that this is a lot of information to consider, and stressed that the county is very much at a starting point in this process. He does, however, expect that the Commissioners will make a decision at their December 9 meeting.
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