Welcome to Nampa: Idaho’s Hidden Sports Gem
22 Oct, 2014By: Juli Anne Patty
Idaho’s second-largest city, Nampa is tucked in the heart of Treasure Valley, among wineries, mountain peaks and rivers. If the name sounds like “Napa,” it’s an appropriate coincidence. Nampa offers all of the rich, scenic countryside of California’s wine country, along with the incomparable Snake River, the mountains of Boise National Forest, small town charms like the local farmers market, and one other feature you probably wouldn’t expect: a world-class, nationally acclaimed sports facility. The Ford Idaho Center has long been renowned among sports experts and owners, but with a new name and the attention of some major national events, Nampa’s hidden sports gem is set to take the world stage.
The Ford Idaho Center comprises four versatile, outstanding facilities: Ford Arena, Ford Amphitheatre, Ford Sports Complex and Ford Idaho Horse Park. All within one easily navigated complex, the Ford Idaho Center brings all the next-level event hosting capabilities and service together in one place. Located at the Crossroads of the Northwest, between airport hubs Seattle, Portland, Reno and Salt Lake City, the Ford Center is also located alongside I-84 just 20 minutes from the Boise Airport.
Welcome to Idaho Horse Country
Ford Idaho Horse Park has been treating the equestrian world to a five-star experience since 2001. Offering an experience unlike any other equestrian park, The Ford Idaho Horse Park sets an entirely new bar for equine events.
Guest services: At Ford Idaho Horse Park, you’re not just a competitor or an owner. You’re a guest, and so are your horses. Check-in works more like a high-end hotel than an equestrian facility. Escorts provide transportation across the grounds and take care of anything you might need to make your stay more comfortable. Guests are welcomed with snacks and drinks to refresh them after the drive. What’s more, Ford Idaho Horse Park’s guest services team is available and on-call 24 hours, seven days a week to deliver anything you might need.
Advanced amenities: The experts at Ford Idaho Horse Park know that navigating an event with your equine competitor involves a lot of moving parts. That’s why they created an in-house charge card system to make your stay as simple and comfortable as possible. At arrival, each guest is given a personal charge card, which can be used like cash throughout the stay. Whether you need snacks, laundry, RV spaces, hay, bedding or even extra stalls, it’s as simple as presenting your Ford Horse Park charge card. At check-out, each guest receives an itemized bill, making accounting for expenses a breeze.
Experts: Experience and expertise are crucial to the execution of a truly exceptional equestrian event, whether it’s a Western rodeo or an English event. Ford Idaho Horse Park employs the top experts for supervision of elements such as footing, which can make or break an event. Come on out and visit the footing supply area, which includes, at any given time, five to seven different kinds and mixtures of dirt. The horse park’s experts put together the perfect footing for every event, every time.
Family: The Ford Idaho Horse Park adopts its guests and staff as family. Each staff member is hired based on their enthusiasm and commitment just as much as their expertise and skill. For that reason, a visit to our Park has become like a reunion for many competitors.
Ford Idaho Horse Park’s 110 acres of premium equine facilities include
- English Riding Facility, with a Grand Prix course and multiple show arena
- Ford Sports Center’s indoor arena, with 140’ by 280’ of open floor space
- A 150’ by 300’ outdoor arena
- Three warm-up pens, including a 120’ by 130’ coverall arena
- 200’ by 500’ stock pens, with a capacity of 800
- 582 permanent stalls with water (no hoses required), including the capacity for additional stalls as needed
- A full facility kitchen, which can be staffed early morning or late night as needed
Not Their First Rodeo
Ford Idaho Center is home to the Snake River Stampede, celebrating its 100th rodeo in 2015. Started as a bucking contest by the organizers of the Nampa Harvest Festival, the Snake River Stampede is today one of the top 10 regular professional rodeos out of the approximately 800 rodeos in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
The Snake River Stampede became a professional rodeo and a national event in 1937 with an auspicious kickoff. President Franklin Roosevelt, at his home in Hyde Park, New York, opened the rodeo by pressing a golden telegraph key, which was studded with the first 22 nuggets of gold found in Alaska and had been used by presidents since 1909 for such events as starting the operations at the Panama Canal and setting off the power generation machinery at Boulder Dam.
That was just the first of many celebrated people who would grace the Snake River Stampede’s history. Gene Autry was the first star of the Snake River Stampede, drawing crowds so large they couldn’t even fit inside the rodeo, but still stood outside to hear him sing. Later, the rodeo would welcome Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Barbara Mandrell and Reba McEntire, who is herself a former rodeo barrel racer.
The Snake River Stampede grew so popular over the years that it welcomed a new home in the Ford Idaho Center. It moved into the modern, air-conditioned arena in 1997, ready to continue its ride into rodeo history—not into the sunset.
World Class Events
As part of the Ford Idaho Center, the Ford Idaho Horse Park has brought thousands of competitors and guests from all over the nation, introducing Nampa’s hidden gem to the world. But equine events are just the beginning of what the Ford Idaho Center does so well.
The Ford Sports Center is the newest addition to the Ford Idaho Center Complex. A 100,000 square-foot multi-purpose building, the Sports Center is the home indoor track facility for Boise State University, with the only Mondo 200-meter track west of Nebraska. In partnership with Boise State, the Ford Sports Center has welcomed numerous top-ranked collegiate meets, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Indoor Championships, the Western Athletic Conference Indoor Championships and the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships, which resulted in the world record men's 1,000 meter run within the Heptathlon.
To offer an idea of its size, the Ford Arena is large enough to drive five semi-trucks loaded with production and staging equipment directly into the arena from back and front. That makes for convenient loading and unloading, but it also offers a magnificent championship facility for events like volleyball, wrestling, cheerleading, dance, basketball and indoor soccer, just to name a few of the possibilities. The arena also offers four spacious locker rooms, private offices, meeting rooms and star dressing rooms, along with broadcast-quality lighting for televised shows or events.
Known as the place to enjoy the best outdoor music experience in the Treasure Valley, Ford Amphitheater has welcomed countless music stars and acts. It also makes the ideal place for national events to celebrate their awards ceremonies and opening and closing events.
The Gem of the Northwest Crossroads
Even if equestrian events—or track and field, soccer, volleyball or basketball—bring you to Nampa, chances are, you will have some time to enjoy some of the other attractions of the area. Maybe you will play a round of golf on one of the acclaimed courses, or perhaps take advantage of some of the world’s best and most picturesque fly fishing. On the other hand, you might enjoy a tour through the wine country, hiking or skiing in the nearby mountains or a breathtaking rafting trip. Whatever you choose, two things are for sure: you will be happy your event brought you to Nampa, and you will look forward to coming back. The staff will make sure of it.