Pocatello and Chubbuck's event center is on the brink of development. Officials in the Pocatello/Chubbuck Auditorium District say they could even break ground in nine months.
So what we can expect and, more importantly, how much it will cost? The estimate from the Raul Cano, the Auditorium District's executive director, for the entire project cost is $5-$7 million.
"We had this study done three years ago and they told us, 'yes there is a need,'” said Cano. “We've talked to a lot of people that agree that if we have this facility built, it's going to get a lot of use."
There are still some building plans that have yet to be finalized, but Cano says they're hoping to buy the land and the building, saving money in the long run. He said the original plan was to sign a 30-year lease that could cost them millions of unnecessary dollars with nothing to show for it.
He said when the Auditorium District was created in 1998, the original plan was to market current spaces, like Holt Arena, hotels and other spaces in the community. However, when the Auditorium District was created, Idaho statute dictated a building to serve the Auditorium District needed to be built. So the search began for the perfect location, price and type of building that would help bring in outside dollars.
"That's why auditorium districts were created,” said Cano, “to be able to build a facility and also promote economic development."
The most important factor of the cost is that Pocatello and Chubbuck residents won't pay for any of it. The money comes from hotels, and a room tax guests pay.
"This is a pass-through tax that only affects the people that stay at hotels," Cano said, adding that the only way a local resident would have paid for this project is if they stayed in a local hotel. Cano also says this creates a cycle in the Pocatello/Chubbuck area.
"People come and stay at the hotels, and that brings more dollars into the community as a whole,” Cano said. “Then [the hotels] collect this room tax which goes to us, which helps us to market and bring more events, and put more people in the hotel beds."
But where will the event center be built? Cano says he doesn't know the exact plot, but it will be in the new construction area of Knudsen Boulevard, the road that will connect Hawthorne Rd. It's going to connect Hawthorne road to Yellowstone Avenue in Chubbuck, and it's also going to be the area where the new event center will be located.
Cano said they do not want the event center considered as a convention center. They want to continue the partnerships they've developed with the hotels by having the hotels host conventions.