Another step for event center - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Another step for event center

Committee: NIC should hire professional to iron out project details

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Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 1:29 am, Thu Aug 29, 2013.

COEUR d'ALENE - The ad hoc committee charged with exploring the feasibility of building a multi-million dollar event center in Coeur d'Alene for North Idaho College is recommending the college move forward on the project.

The 17-member volunteer committee isn't recommending NIC build the arena quite yet, however.

It's just saying enough merit is there for the college to hire a professional to hammer out the final details on what the potential project could look like.

"We've answered the questions the best we can," Joe Dunlap, NIC president, told the college's board of trustees Wednesday night. "I don't know if we can take that to the next level with our expertise."

The committee studied facilities across the country run by eight other community colleges. Those facilities, from New York to Nebraska, ranged in size from 1,550- to 6,500-seat arenas where average attendance ranged from 100 people to 4,000 for sports and community events. They all operated in the black.

The committee also looked at a feasibility study from 2008 that said Coeur d'Alene could support such an arena, and that the economic impact for the area from an event center could be $7 million a year.

That told the committee that enough information is out there to warrant a deeper look at building a facility in Coeur d'Alene.

But, Dunlap said, if NIC wants to move forward on the project it should hire a professional consultant to craft a detailed proposal - essentially how big, what it would look like and where it would go. He asked the board to be ready to make a decision at next month's meeting.

"What I agree with is we can what-if this thing to death," he told the trustees. "With every type of endeavor, there is an element of risk."

Trustees said that could be too soon to make such a big decision.

One piece of information they want to wait for is whether businessman Doug Parker will be able to follow through on his intention to buy a piece of property near the US Bank Call Center and donate it to NIC for the site of the arena.

That roughly 20-acre parcel is one of two sites NIC has identified as a possible spot. The other is in Riverstone, off Seltice Way.

"I, like Ron, am not prepared for a decision," said Christie Wood, trustee, referring to fellow member Ron Nilson. "We have to struggle with, is this a part of our mission?"

Parker, who said in previous interviews he had made multiple offers for the land, told The Press Wednesday that negotiations between himself and the property owner, Washington Trust Bank, were "at odds" but still ongoing.

"They've been anything but helpful," he said. "At least so far."

NIC passed a resolution earlier that said the college would be interested in building a facility - with an estimated cost between $15 million and $20 million - so long as the college could operate the facility but not have taxpayers responsible for footing the bill.

NIC has a $10 million pledge from Lake City Development Corp., the city's urban renewal agency, but has to raise $5 million of its own before it can cash in LCDC's share.

If NIC hired a professional to fine tune a project proposal, that would mean NIC is taking on some costs.

"As I look at this I say, how can we recommend moving forward with hiring a consultant?" said Nilson, referring to NIC spending its own money despite passing the previous resolution. "If this takes away from that, we have to step out of the way."

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  • local res posted at 7:05 pm on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    local res Posts: 1162

    Skeen Hunter if it meets the needs of the community, why hasn't the private sector already stepped forward to fund the project entirely? Why push this project on to the backs of the taxpayers?

  • former_prompter_jockey posted at 5:21 pm on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    former_prompter_jockey Posts: 6

    Good points, and what's the harm in probing the project a bit further. As I read the story, NIC's prez is just saying the group has gone about as far as they can without some professional input. I don't think the design is locked in so for those that have concerns about the "pole barn", just take a deep breath. This thing is far from done.

  • Why Not posted at 3:16 pm on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    Why Not Posts: 4138

    "And as far as the financial feasibility for this project goes the simple fact that no business or corporate interest is willing to gamble THEIR resources tells you everything you need to know about why THEY want the taxpayer to pay for it." - HUH, you been sleeping under a rock Vox? What part of Doug Parker's $3Million offer don't you understand? Having this arena might be good in that there could be more jobs for people like you.

  • Why Not posted at 12:34 pm on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    Why Not Posts: 4138

    @ Randy, a professional is required to develop a project structure that everyone can follow, because right now people are just tossing out ideas. This allows the community to examine the project scope in more detail, i.e., a planning perspective, development and potential economic impact. Personally I think the idea of a community events center makes lots of sense, especially in Coeur d'Alene which is essentially the de facto gateway to North Idaho.

  • voxpop posted at 12:27 pm on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    "I, like Ron, am not prepared for a decision," said Christie Wood, trustee, referring to fellow member Ron Nilson. "We have to struggle with, is this a part of our mission?"

    The answer is very simple and irrefutable. No. And as far as the financial feasibility for this project goes the simple fact that no business or corporate interest is willing to gamble THEIR resources tells you everything you need to know about why THEY want the taxpayer to pay for it. It's apparent to me that the days of representative govt should be at an end when it comes to spending public money. All politicians are tools of the local business community and see those funds as an endless source of expansion.

  • Randy Myers posted at 10:36 am on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    Randy Myers Posts: 1635

    I think an event center would be great for Cd'A but not the one that is planned so far. Projections are for it to be a money loser. The comparison centers, all 8 of them, are in the black according to NIC analysts. See what's wrong with this picture ?

    @Shakeen ..Playing devil's advocate here....a case could be made that this is an attempt to serve the "North Idaho communities" and that this is an example of "community engagement."

    @ Why Not...You make a good case for caution and discretion but what about the plan to hire a planner?

  • chouli posted at 10:21 am on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    chouli Posts: 1264

    I can't get past the fact that NIC is a community college ... and an event center is NOT something a community college needs to spend money on...especially since tuition keeps rising out of sight for students. EDUCATION and access to training is the primary goal for a community college. All the other fluff should be secondary to keeping affordable tuition and educational access to our area.

    If you want sports and all the other stuff...look towards a university.

  • Why Not posted at 10:20 am on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    Why Not Posts: 4138

    The college is just one component of this concept to build a community events center. Set the college aside and ask yourself, would an events center benefit this community or not? That’s exactly what the board is doing. And using a college to facilitate community projects is in fact quite common Mike. On its own the college seems quite cautious, as the board should be. Everything I have read so far indicates that the board is doing exactly what we should expect, establishing the project scope from which they can determine whether the college should be involved, or even to what extent. We’ve already established one benefactor willing to put up funds. Who knows, someone else may step forward and throw in millions more to get their name on the place, heck maybe the Lola Hagadone Events Center. Now there’s an idea that will get some folks baggies all in a knot

  • Sheeken Hunter posted at 9:44 am on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    Sheeken Hunter Posts: 178

    While an event center would be a great addition to the community but constructing it and funding it over the long haul is not consistent with the mission of North Idaho College. Its website states its 'Mission' as follows:
    "North Idaho College meets the diverse educational needs of students, employers, and the northern Idaho communities it serves through a commitment to student success, educational excellence, community engagement, and lifelong learning."

  • Miketeague posted at 8:53 am on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    Miketeague Posts: 2013

    Before I get clobbered, yes I know the word “feasibility” is in the first sentence. What I am after is the fact the “feasibility” committee admits they are over their head but have decided to move forward whether it is feasible or not.

  • Miketeague posted at 8:15 am on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    Miketeague Posts: 2013

    A letter to the editor from a parent that was outraged (as we all should be) over a thirty percent increase in NIC tuition had me wondering just what was the need for such a jump. Now we know, it’s for more experts to make the board (puppets) feel good about their decision to “move forward” on a $20,000,000.00 project that a community college does not need. No where in the article did the word FEASIBILITY come into play, it was all how big and where, which tells me this like McEuen is as ancietemplar says a done deal.

  • ancientemplar posted at 8:06 am on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1146

    You, the public, didn't expect anything different did you? Its a "done deal" whether we want it or not.

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