Stadium Proposal Analysis
Approval, locations, concerns, and more
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In our analysis, we take a deeper look at our survey results and highlight the patterns and insights we find under the surface using segmentation across meaningful demographics (like age, gender, or location).
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There’s a proposal to develop a sports park near downtown that would support the Boise Hawks and a soccer team, among other events, retail, and residential developments. Boise leaders have been debating it for the last two years or so, and it’s gotten a lot of people riled up at different stages. We wanted to know what people think about all this.
Here are our questions and results. Below’s what I found most interesting.
First, our sample’s demographics
(When you look at surveys, it’s always a good idea to peak at that types of people that responded. Since we track how each person answers questions, we’re able to pull in responses from previous surveys for this. If some subscribers didn’t take the survey where we collected a demographic, they’re denoted by a “?” in the charts.)
You can see that we have big groups of “?” respondents on different demographics this week. That’s because I tried something new and opened up the survey on social media, instead of just through email. Outside of email, I don’t know who responded unless they add their email address at the end. That means I can’t pull in previous answers if they don’t identify themselves. It’s a tradeoff — a larger sample, more people subscribing, but more non-attributable responses at the same time.
With that in mind, from the attributable responses, we heard from roughly the same amount of men and women, more liberals than conservatives, more young people than old, and zip codes closer to downtown. Keep that in mind when we talk about the overall results and the segmented views.
Lots of news; it’s getting tiresome
The first few questions asked how many times you’d seen news about the Boise stadium proposal and how tired of the debates you are. You can see how the overall results on those questions broke down here. But I was curious to know if people are more tired of these debates if they’ve heard about it more times.
Not quite. You can see that most of our respondents had heard about the stadium in the news 10 or more times, and a big chunk of them are “Extremely tired” or “Very tired” of the debates, but I didn’t really find a trend where the more you’ve heard about it, the more tired of it you are. People are still pretty tuned in on this, even if it’s starting to feel drawn out.
Who approves of a new stadium?
One of our next questions was about whether you approve of a new stadium development in general. I specified “in general” because I wanted to know what people think about the stadium idea independent of where it’s located — we went into that later in the survey and will further down in the analysis too.
You can see that, overall, a little over 55% either “Strongly approve” or “Approve,” compared to 30% that “Disapprove” or “Strongly disapprove.” About 15% are neutral. That’s interesting by itself — from all the news stories, I think many would assume that more people are opposed to this — but it’d be even more illuminating if we can find patterns in the types of people that approve of this idea or not.
First, I took a look at this answer by age group. For comparison’s sake, I grouped our respondents aged 50–70 into a “50+” category. Next, I split the results by age group and looked at the proportions that answered each way.
It doesn’t look like there’s an overwhelmingly clear signal here, but it looks like there may be an increased likelihood that you’re approving of a new stadium if you’re younger. You can see that about 70% of respondents in their 20s or 40s approved. Compare that to about 30% of those in the 50+ category.
Now lets move on to gender. About the same proportion of men and women approved of a new stadium, but men were twice as likely to approve “strongly.” On the other end, about twice as many women disapproved, and 4x more women disapproved “strongly.” Again, I’m not sure this would bare out if we had this data from more of our respondents, but it’s interesting.
If I’m going to hypothesize, perhaps less women are into baseball or soccer in aggregate? A skim of the abstract on this paper suggests that might be valid. But lets move on.
Next, I segmented the answers by whether or not the respondent is a “Boise Native,” they grew up in or around Boise (our sample has 17 natives and 21 transplants). At a glance, it looks like transplants approve of the new stadium less strongly than natives do. Once again, there wasn’t a super clear split, so I’m going to take this with a grain of salt. Hopefully more survey responses in the future could enable a better comparison.
Now to the most interesting one — how did different zip codes respond to this? For context, both the Downtown (Americana and Shoreline) and Westend (Whitewater Park and Main) locations are in 83702, so I think views from those respondents probably carry a bit more weight. Also noteworthy is that 83706 is the closest bordering zip code for both locations.
You can see that 02 and 06 were two of the more approving zip codes, compared to the other zip codes we got the most responses from. It’s interesting that 05, 04, and the other zip codes are more negative — perhaps because they would be the “drive through neighborhoods,” or due to financial concerns that might affect all Boise residents.
Nearly everyone prefers the Westend
Ok, so we’ve got a decent sense of which people approved of the stadium in general. Next, I asked how important they consider the location. Turns out that most people think it matters — about 85% of survey respondents indicated that it matters more than “A little,” with the most popular response being “A great deal.” Lets put that through the zip code lens again.
With the exception of 83712 (East End), all the groups prefer the Westend location to the Downtown one. (The “Other zips” bucket had no change, to be fair…)
Again, lets come back to 83702, which would be hosting either location. They were almost 30% more approving of the Westend spot. Wow! That’s the biggest difference in location-dependent approval from any of the groups. The locals like the new idea.
Top concerns and opportunities
Next, I decided to dig into the concerns and opportunities of the proposed development. I wanted to know which aspects were giving people the most hangups or making them the most excited.
Overall, financial concerns were prioritized the highest. People feel uncomfortable with how the City plans to pay for this project. For instance, we had a lot of comments illustrating that people don’t feel like a good development idea should require government subsidies to be successful. Affordable housing and the way this process is being handled (Influencers) were the two least-prioritized concerns.
When it comes to opportunities, there wasn’t as much of a standout. “Development — more neighborhood amenities and investment” was the least-prioritized of the opportunities, but not by a huge margin. The other three were pretty much tied, with “Culture — more shared experiences for Boiseans” having a slight edge.
At a glance, segmentation angles on these questions didn’t highlight anything very noteworthy.
Approvers and Believers
Now it’s time for a nerdier conversation — why did people respond so differently to the “do you approve” question compared to the “would [it] make Boise better” question?! The former was much more polarized. The latter was more moderated, with people meeting more in the middle. For context, the “approve” question was asked near the beginning of the survey and the “better” question was asked near the end.
I have several theories. First, maybe after going through the survey, answering some nuanced questions, and considering the concerns and opportunities, people felt generally more okay with the idea — less on one extreme or another. Or, does the wording of the question (using “believe”) encourage a bigger picture view, or more perspective? I’ve written a lot of surveys, but maybe if I took more classes in research methods I’d have a better answer… Anyways, I thought that was really interesting. (Thanks for humoring me!)
That’s all for quantitative analysis. Now we’re going to shift gears to qualitative, and see what interesting comments came through.
Lots of interesting comments, as usual. I’ve highlighted several that I think are particularly thought-provoking or representative, and I’ve bolded key phrases to help you skim.
What gets too much attention?
People generally pay a lot of attention to where this would be, and how great it would be to have a larger sports team stationed in Boise. I don’t think we will have enough fans to support a large, professional team.
I think that people overemphasize the aspects of the development beyond the stadium such as the space for restaurants and retail plus the spaces for “community events.” This seems to be something supporters of the development emphasize an attempt to appease Boiseans who oppose the stadium (in case they don’t like baseball). These spaces are not something our city is lacking in so making it a sports park or complex just makes it a bigger, more expensive project but doesn’t do anything for ordinary citizens.
The fact that it even exists. We do not need a stadium, we aren’t a big city, this isn’t going to draw significant outside income for the city, and is going to make the area much less accessible/enjoyable for locals.
Process. If the result is positive, more amenities and development, process is a secondary concern. It is being used as a smokescreen by people who oppose all development.
I think that many people are concerned about this because locals want to keep Boise small. In reality, Boise’s growth is skyrocketing and residents need to start accepting that.
We can not sustain a semi pro team in Boise. Basketball has moved. Hockey is hanging on. Baseball is barley around and that stadium is ready to fall down. It will be another fail and Boise people paying for it.
People are paying too much attention to the idea of Boise being a “big city”. Boise should develop in a way that is best for the people at a more natural pace.
The use of public money. $3 million is not that much money for a city government to spend. This development will become a catalyst for development wherever it goes.
People seem overly concerned about traffic and parking. In other cities with downtown stadiums parking is widely distributed and there are more options for walking/biking, etc.
Probably the narrative that this is so some fat cats can get rich. That may be true. But having been through this in Denver, it can also lead to a tremendous amount of neighborhood revitalization.
Traffic. Traffic is like cancer, everything causes it. Locating the stadium further away will just create more traffic to get to the stadium, and require additional transportation solutions to another area. Boise is growing. There is going to be traffic. We need to manage it and pack amenities into denser areas to concentrate where people need to go, then provide viable alternatives to automobile and parking only solutions.
The NIMBY folks masquerading as caring about the environment or affordable housing.
Parking. There’s plenty of parking downtown. A game day shuttle solves most concerns. Also that the developer is from out of town. So what?
What doesn’t get enough attention?
Long term cost to taxpayers, burden of 30 year old facility when transferred to city, studies that show the facilities don’t pay for themselves, shenanigans by city leaders to leave tax payers out of decision process.
Why isn’t the current location of Hawks stadium not good enough to enlarge and improve? At least there is parking space decent traffic movement? Who’s paying for it. Why does everything need to be downtown?
For me, the biggest issue that keeps getting lost is how terrible of an idea this is financially. There is ample economic research out there that demonstrates how subsidized sports facilities do not benefit cities. There are many examples. This has been established information for about 20 years. It is actually insulting that these developers think that they can convince Boiseans that this is a good idea and that our city needs to foot the bill for their project. It’s also embarrassing to see some Boiseans falling for it.
The government’s publications and position on the stadium at any given time. There seems to be some undercurrent of assuming that there are special deals being cut in backrooms out of the public eye. But in actually digging into the news and publications issued by the City Council and Mayor on this, the discussion and process have seemed relatively transparent.
Bringing the Hawks closer to town and adding a soccer venue increases Boise’s attractiveness as a destination for businesses, tourists and people relocating. A city either grows or dies.
The cultural benefits of having a semi-pro soccer team. Boise has a thriving soccer community!
The irony of people complaining that it won’t be a catalyst for development while simultaneously complaining about how bad the traffic could be. Is it going to drive traffic or is it not?
What does this stadium say about our community values? To me, it signifies the supremacy of developers and people in the real-estate industry over the well-being of working people in our city. That the city wants to prioritize this stadium over affordable housing and services for low-income families and houseless people speaks volumes to what we actually care about.
The job creation, addition of neighborhood amenities, and overall improvement of Boise. This would advance us in our status as a city and help us to continue to attract businesses and talent that people want in order to earn higher salaries.
Boise States Baseball stadium is way more of a concern. BSU had originally agreed to be a part of this park but pulled from the plan to start their own stadium. They are using eminent domain to remove housing on parts of Beacon to make room for their stadium.
What it will do for the neighborhood. I think people assume it will be negative, and I’ve even heard people suggest moving it to Meridian. That tells me that they are either not paying enough attention to why the location is important (not car centric) and/or don’t understand urban design. I think this is a really cool amenity to be located near.
That’s all folks!
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