COEUR d'ALENE - If a sports arena is to be built, it would need $10 million from Lake City Development Corp.
North Idaho College representatives told LCDC Thursday that they need a nod of financial support from the urban renewal agency before the college pursues plans to construct a multi-million dollar sports facility at Riverstone.
The college's desire for the project is there, but not the financing. And without the agency's support - up to $10 million, college officials said - the project is likely dead.
"If we can't get LCDC to support it, this probably isn't going to work," Ken Howard, chairman of the North Idaho College board of trustees, told the agency during LCDC's strategic planning session Thursday at the Kroc Center. "We need LCDC's help for a bulk of the cost."
Planning sessions occur when LCDC outlines long- and short-term goals for the next fiscal year. The agency kept familiar topics, like education, public space and job growth, on its list, but couldn't commit specifically to the arena.
Not yet, anyway.
"Maybe with our help they can pull this off," said Brad Jordan, LCDC member. "We know in some fashion we can help. We just don't know how much."
The agency has said recently it would be willing to explore the feasibility of bringing a sports arena to town. In 2008, it helped pay for a consultant study to explore the very topic. On Thursday, it said it would have to review its finances inside the River District - the urban renewal boundary in which Riverstone sits - before it could be willing to nod unofficial support NIC's way.
Unofficial support would mean, after more project planning, NIC would go to the agency in September or October for an official financial request.
The sports arena has been a topic for years. NIC said it could cost around $15 million to construct and purchase the land in Riverstone. The land is pegged to cost around $2.5 million while construction would cost around $12.5 million.
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.
Riverstone developer John Stone said he received three bids on the design, and all three bids came in around $12.5 million. That's under the $25 million to $35 million estimate the Minnesota-based consultant, Conventions, Sports and Leisure International, estimated a structure to cost five years ago.
But that study also said the arena could pump approximately $7 million directly into the economy every year - double that if you calculate indirect economic benefits - said Joe Dunlap, NIC president.
"We continue to send events across the border," he said of losing events to Spokane.
About $5 million would come from fundraising, and another $5 million would be 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. NIC would have schedule priority for the arena.
NIC's existing indoor athletic facility, Christianson Gymnasium, was built in 1949.
"Most high schools have a better facility than what NIC has," Dunlap said.