The Mountain America Event Center in Idaho Falls has experienced big delays because of the pandemic but continues to move forward. This project has been in progress since 2011, when the Idaho Falls Auditorium District was formed. Rob Spear, the executive director of the Idaho Falls Auditorium District said a public vote was needed to form the district. Over 63% voted to form the district.
When Spear became the executive director in April 2019, he wanted to know the facts and numbers about the project’s outcome.
“I’ve been involved in the last year and a half, and we’ve stepped up our efforts. What I always like to say is that we took a lot of the unknowns and [made] them knowns. For example, we did not know exactly what it was going to cost to construct, so we went out and had a bid opening and received what is known as a guaranteed maximum price,” Spear said.
The event center will cost about $57 million. Spear said the event center is funded through a hotel tax. This has brought annual revenue to the event center since 2011.
“We are funded through hotel tax, so when you stay at a hotel in the district, which aligns with the city limits of Idaho Falls, you pay 5% which goes towards the construction of the facility. Our sole purpose of existence is to build this facility,” Spear said.
In March, there was a drop in the funds from the hotel tax. The pandemic was becoming a serious issue, and fewer people were visiting and staying in Idaho Falls hotels. This set them back quite a bit, changing their estimated end date.
With the project costing about $57 million, Spear said they discovered they were about $2.5 million short. This has created future opportunities for the community to help. He said there will be opportunities for people to buy things like bricks or seats, to help contribute to the project.
“We need some additional community champions to step up. When they do, they will be recognized on the donor wall. So, when people come into this event center, they will be able to look at that wall and see that business and know that they were very instrumental in making this happen for this community,” Spear said
The Mountain America Event Center will be used for many different events. More information about the event center is available online at idahofallsdistrictauditorium.com.