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Riggs: Kroc Center the 'best thing' that happened to Coeur d'Alene

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | May 18, 2024 1:08 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Dr. Jack Riggs grew up in Coeur d’Alene. He witnessed its transformation over the years. He remembers key developments like the freeway being put in, and the city’s acquisitions of Independence Point and Tubbs Hill.

In his medical career and time as a legislator, he was involved in many community projects in which he takes pride, including the creation of Urgent Care centers, U.S. 95 improvements and the introduction of charter schools in Idaho.

But none of those are at the top of his list.

“Some of those are pretty good projects, but nothing in comparison to being able to be involved with bringing the Kroc Center to Coeur d’Alene,” Riggs recently told the city council.

Riggs was one of the people instrumental in the Kroc Center’s opening in Coeur d’Alene 15 years ago. The site off Ramsey Road and Golf Course Road went from being a hole in the ground “to a place of love, opportunity and transformation” for thousands, young and old. 

The 132,000-square-foot community center owned by the Salvation Army today has about 19,000 members, more than 1,900 daily entries and more than 200 staff members.

It celebrated its anniversary with an open house last Saturday.

“Close to 1,000 people came to The Kroc throughout the day and enjoyed rec swims, bounce houses, a balloon clown, hot dogs and special birthday cupcakes,” said Stacy Barney, the center's assistant director.

The center has held its own and then some, financially.

In 2023, it had total revenue of $8.9 million, with half of that from membership fees. Operating the center costs about $11,000 a month for water and heat for the competition pool, and $471,800 for wages and benefits. 

Annual expenses in 2023 ran $228,821 for electricity, $153,179 for natural gas, $103,069 for pool chemicals, and $63,015 for water and sewer.

Last year, its outreach services totaled $1.8 million and the center cost $5.7 million to operate.

Officials point out the Kroc Center does not receive tax dollars, and 100% of membership dues and donations benefit Kootenai County.

Jack Riggs has no doubts the Kroc Center is priceless.

“The best thing that I think has ever happened to Coeur d’Alene was Kroc coming to Coeur d’Alene,” Riggs said.