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Auditorium District to Re-group with Consultant

Group considering convention center plans

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Now that the Greater Boise Auditorium District Board has decided on new membership and a new direction, it also wants to update its cache of data before determining how, when or even if it wants to expand its convention space.

Soon after accepting the resignation of Board Member Mike Fitzgerald, following nearly a year of his long-distance participation (BW, News, "Home Away from Home," Aug. 24, 2011), the board unanimously voted to approve Rob Perez as one of its own (BW, Citydesk, "GBAD Gets New Board Member," March 21, 2012).

GBAD's primary focus now appears to be moving forward with plans for a new convention center, to be built on a parcel of land bordered by 11th, 13th, Front and Myrtle streets. On March 19, the board said it would consider a new study on the possible construction of a 156,000-square-foot facility, which could cost approximately $37 million.

"Jon Kaatz is the man who we have turned to for that analysis," said Pat Rice, executive director of the Boise Centre. "He has completed several studies for us, going back to the 1990s and all the way up to his most-recent analysis in 2009."

Rice has asked Kaatz, principal partner with Minneapolis-based Convention, Sports and Leisure, to return to Boise to pow-wow with GBAD board members. The session is scheduled for Wednesday, May 16.

Rice said a number of factors have changed since Kaatz's last Boise analysis in 2009.

"For one, Tacoma, [Wash.], has opened a new convention center, and that has an impact on the Northwest market," said Rice.

The Boise Centre, which currently markets itself as a 50,000-square-foot meeting space, attracts 25-30 conventions per year, according to Rice.

"Right now, we can accommodate about 20 percent of the convention market," said Rice. "But with the kind of expansion we're talking about, we could promote ourselves to as much as 60 percent of the market."

The May 16 meeting, scheduled for the Boise Centre will be open to the public.

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