COEUR d'ALENE - Lake City Development Corp. has $10 million to help build an event center in Riverstone.
Before the urban renewal agency decides whether it wants to pay for the bulk of the project North Idaho College is pitching, more market, feasibility and financing numbers have to be studied thoroughly.
Until then, LCDC is interested in helping land the multi-use sports complex near the intersection of Northwest Boulevard and Interstate 90, it said Wednesday, and it could secure the funds to do it.
"We'd have to borrow money much like we did with McEuen," said Rod Colwell, LCDC member and finance chair, referring to a line of credit the agency secured to fund the multi-million downtown park redevelopment project. "It's like anything then, you'd have to make choices."
Agreeing to fund $10 million of the $15 million capital project would mean the agency might not have resources to fund other projects inside the River District, the urban renewal boundary in which Riverstone sits.
But the board said it wants to keep exploring the sports arena possibility.
While Wednesday's nod of support wasn't a binding financial commitment, it gives NIC enough support to move forward. Last month, the college told LCDC it wanted to explore the feasibility of building an events center, but without LCDC's financial support, it couldn't.
"Absolutely that's what I wanted to hear," said Mark Browning, NIC vice president for community relations and marketing, after the meeting that stopped short of saying, 'Yes, for sure.' "They didn't say no, that's a step in the right direction."
Now, NIC's ad hoc committee will continue looking at possible marketing surveys, design flexibility, fundraising possibilities and possibly another feasibility study.
The sports arena has been a topic around town for years. NIC said it could cost around $15 million to construct and purchase the land in Riverstone, the mixed use commercial and residential neighborhood next to the Spokane River. The land is pegged to cost around $2.5 million while construction would cost around $12.5 million.
An additional $5 million would have to be raised for an endowment fund for operating costs, totaling $20 million for the estimated arena cost. NIC has said it can't contribute much financially because it has higher capital priorities, such as building a new professional-technical education facility.
Which leaves LCDC as the primary financial support option.
And a conceptual design for the arena - which could also host trade shows and concerts among 75 or so events a year - was drawn up about two years ago by Coeur d'Alene architect Chris Patano.
It shows a 5,000 seat pre-engineered, metal facility - almost like a warehouse but with a grand entrance - that would take six to seven months to construct.
After NIC crunches more numbers, it wants to come back to the agency in the fall to make a formal request for the funds.
"Could we borrow $10 million, could we make that work?" Colwell said. "Yeah."
Tom Hasslinger can be reached at 664-8176 ext. 2010 or email@example.com