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Construction on the Mountain America Center could begin in March

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IDAHO FALLS — Since it was announced more than a decade ago, people have wondered whether construction on a new event center in Snake River Landing would ever actually happen.

During a news conference in Idaho Falls Tuesday morning, Rob Spear, the executive director of the Idaho Falls Auditorium District, said he is cautiously optimistic construction will begin in two months.

“We are hopeful that we can close (the funding gap) and be ready to go in March,” Spear said. “The board elected to embark on early construction activity (last year) because it positions the project to go vertical in March.”

Whether or not a groundbreaking occurs in March depends on several factors. Having all the funds in place is a major factor, along with negotiating a guaranteed maximum price with contractors and having a solid financial plan.

The district will know the total cost of the project next month after the contractors complete a 10-day bidding process.

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The district has been actively fundraising since the district was approved in 2011. When Mountain America Credit Union purchased the naming rights for the building last July, it brought in $4.5 million. At that time, the district had $12 million between donations and funds from the local hotel bed tax. A significant portion of that $12 million was spent on early construction.

The bidding process will help the district determine the total estimated cost of the project so organizers can know what the gap is between the funds they have and the amount they still need. Construction can proceed once the gap is closed.

The 48,000-square-foot building will include an arena and convention center for concerts and sporting events. It will also include a banquet room, premium seating and other amenities.

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“The number of entertainment opportunities is endless and I think it’s really important to identify the right events for this community and create the opportunity for people to have options here without having to travel outside the area,” Spear said.

If construction happens in March, the estimated date of completion is October of 2021.