By Eric Grossarth, EastIdahoNews.com
SHELLEY — The long-awaited Mountain America Event Center in Idaho Falls received another huge funding boost on Monday from another local company.
Golden Valley Natural’s brand Hero Meat Snacks bought the naming rights of the arena within the Mountain America Center. The announcement came at the business’s Shelley headquarters, putting the Idaho Falls Auditorium District’s project closer to construction.
The facility will be on Event Center Drive in Snake River Landing on the west end of Idaho Falls near Interstate 15.
“This is really exciting because it launches a venue here in our community that has been coming for a long time,” said Golden Valley Natural President Ben Ball. “It’s exciting to be a part of that.”
The $2 million contribution gives Golden Valley Natural the Hero Arena naming rights for the next 20 years.
Other big contributors to the facility include Mountain America Credit Union, Teton Auto Group, Admiral Beverage and Bingham Healthcare.
For over a decade, the Auditorium District has been trying to build the 48,000-square-foot event center, with Hero Arena seating 5,500 spectators in more than 27,000 square feet. Idaho Falls Auditorium District Board Chair Terri Gazdik said a major hurdle in making the project possible is securing the funding.
The district receives its funds through the local hotel tax. Additional funds were obtained through donations and naming rights, Gazdik said.
“It’s all hotel revenues,” Gazdik said. “Last year, downturns in hotel revenue collections directly impacted this project, but here we are today, and we’re moving forward.”
The Auditorium District did not give a start date on the construction project and said there are a lot of moving parts.
“In the next year, they (the community) should expect to see a lot of progress in this facility starting to be constructed,” said Rob Spear, executive director for the district. “We are very optimistic that is going to happen shortly. (I) don’t want to put a timeline on it right (now).”
Construction workers and equipment were on site Monday.
A search of city records shows the auditorium district received the building permits in April. Board meeting minutes indicate the Auditorium District plans to break ground in May.
Once the project is done, the event center will not only host conventions and concerts but also be home to a new Idaho Falls hockey team. Idaho Falls Chukars President and General Manager Kevin Greene will be the manager of the junior hockey team.
“This community deserves an event center that’s going to bring a lot of different activities and events,” Spear said. “Our community is going to continue to grow, and we need something like this to help with employee recruitment, employee retention and just bring joy for the entire community.”
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