The Mountain America Center in Idaho Falls broke ground on Tuesday, May 18. Rob Spear, the executive director of the Idaho Falls Auditorium District was the MC of the event.
“Well, it was a wonderful experience because it was so fulfilling to be able to deliver this project, long awaited project, to a deserving community like Idaho Falls,” Spear said.
This project has been in the works for 10 years. Spear said the district was formed in 2011 when the community of Idaho Falls voted to establish the district with the purpose of building the event center.
The vote was to form a taxing district for the purpose of funding what will become the Mountain America Center in Idaho Falls. Anytime someone stays a night in a hotel or rents a car in the district, they are charged a 5% tax that contributes to the project fund.
Over the last 10 years, the fund has steadily grown to $17 million. The team working on the Mountain America Center faced some challenges at the start of 2020, when the pandemic kept people home and away from vacations. This caused delays in many projects.
“Our board persevered through some tough times and challenges and had the courage to move this project forward through uncertain times,” said Spear. “As we all know, the pandemic created a whole lot of uncertainty, but hopefully we are beyond that now and we understand how to navigate through pandemics.”
Spear said the project is estimated to be completed in October 2022. The center’s main attraction will be a hockey team, along with hosting other sporting events, concerts and more in Idaho Falls.
The May 18 groundbreaking was a rewarding day not only for the board members, but also for people and businesses who donated. Spear said the governor, lieutenant governor and the mayor attended and spoke at the event.
“We then heard from Mountain America… they were really the first naming right partner, and they had the opportunity to talk about the project and why they thought it was important. [We also heard] from Ball Ventures, who initiated this with a great land donation.,” said Spear.
A project of this size requires a lot of funding. It is estimated to cost $64 million. The district has also raised $8.8 million and need another $3.3 million in funding. Spear said businesses and individuals can donate to the Mountain America Center. People can donate by purchasing an engraved seat in the arena for $750, or a brick for $250.
Donations to the Mountain America Center in Idaho Falls can be submitted online at idahofallsauditoriumdistrict.com.