BOISE -- The proposed downtown stadium saga continues with an angle we haven't quite covered yet: Soccer in the City of Trees.
Those behind the push for the multi-use stadium say it would be a huge asset to the Treasure Valley for many reasons, one being to grow the game of soccer at every level.
KTVB has covered multiple sides of this proposed sports park for the past couple weeks - from city council meetings and open houses to the opposition and their concerns. So we wanted to find out why the soccer community is behind it, and why they have the support of city leaders.
"We have a strong soccer community already here," said City of Boise Director of Economic Development, Nic Miller.
Numbers show the sport of soccer is gaining a lot of popularity in the Treasure Valley with about 15,000 players now associated with Idaho Youth Soccer.
"We've been able to host regional tournaments here now that we've never hosted before because people recognize that this is a great place to play soccer," said Idaho Youth Soccer Association President, Bill Taylor.
Those tournaments bringing economic gain to our entire area as guests stay at local hotels, eat at local restaurants, and shop at local stores, all of which Taylor says dovetails with the proposed Boise Sports Park.
"When we're out trying to bring tournaments into town and create more economic impact in our city, this is another asset for us to bring those dollars from outside the community into Boise," Miller told KTVB.
The 5,000 to 6,000-seat stadium is being pitched as a venue for everything from youth and professional soccer, the Boise Hawks home field, youth lacrosse championships, and fun runs.
Taylor says the local soccer community is in overwhelming support. One reason is that the sports park would be a high-profile venue for kids to play championship games and tournaments.
"The stadium works hand-in-hand with the youth sports organization perfectly," Taylor added. "It would be a tremendous opportunity to highlight the kids. The kids love to play in those centers. It would drive people to want to come to Boise to have the opportunity to have games like that and play in a venue like that."
After two successful trials, the Basque soccer friendly and the Portland Timbers 2 game, those behind the push feel it's time for Boise to boast its own team.
"The culture is there that would support the game," Taylor said. "I really am not worried about the support that we have... I think our soccer community is hungry because we have kids that are looking to go to these games to be able to grow from it."
"We believe that even if they are mildly successful they can pay their share and the facility will be successful," Miller added. "Minor league sports, overall, are affordable and family friendly."
Taylor says the United Soccer League team would have a downstream effect and expose young aspiring players to a high level of play and drive more kids to play the sport.
"When that happens it also drives the quality of the sport up which then turns into scholarships for players to go to college and that drives more kids to go on and get a higher education. And that's really what I'm pushing for," said Taylor.
The owners and operators of the Boise Hawks and Agon Sports and Entertainment, tell KTVB they are under contract with the United Soccer League to bring a Division II men's soccer team to the City of Trees in 2020.
But, that's pending the proposed park.
"When you compare us against other USL cities, we are in the top five for population growth. We're growing fast, we're young," Miller said. "We think adding another team in addition to baseball - adding a soccer team - that we'll get more use out of this facility and create more activity and more entertainment options within downtown for not just Boise, but the entire valley."
Miller said they want this sports park to be a community asset that they might eventually own and in order to do that, they have to contribute public money. Because of that, they want the community's input. There is another open house Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 5:30 p.m. at Payette Brewing for the public to learn more and weigh in.
"This is a long process, this deal is not done by any means," Miller added.
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