IDAHO FALLS — From the first Spud Kings game to the upcoming GENTRI concert on Dec. 2, the Mountain America Center in Idaho Falls is celebrating its one-year anniversary.
The venue opened its doors for the first time on Nov. 28, 2022. Marketing director Kelsey Salsbery tells EastIdahoNews.com they’ll be giving away prizes on social media to celebrate. Awards will be presented before the Boise State basketball game on Dec. 1 to individuals who’ve played a role in its creation.
Noting it took more than a decade for the MAC to be built, Salsbery says the last year has surpassed expectations.
“We did it,” Salsbery says. “If it weren’t for the people of eastern Idaho, it would just be a big, fancy, empty building. So many of you have come through our doors. We’re so thrilled that we’ve been able to bring some fun memories to people in eastern Idaho.”
More than 275,000 tickets have been sold to MAC events so far. Its busiest month was December 2022, its first full month of operation, with 22 events total.
By Dec. 30, the MAC will have held 170 events since its opening, with 17 of those being completely sold out.
The venue’s most popular event was the Old Dominion concert, a country music group that performed on Feb. 23. Rock band TOOL, which performed inside the Hero Arena on Oct. 12, was another crowd-pleaser.
Other noteworthy events included ZZ Top, Harlem Globetrotters and stand up comedians Brian Regan and Nate Bargatze.
The venue’s first event was a concert with country music duo Big & Rich, which Salsbery says got things going.
The venue’s fourth event with Manheim Steamroller was its first sold out performance.
“It was on a Tuesday in December. We actually sold out the first show, added an afternoon show. When you look at zip codes for people who came, it was from all over Montana, Utah. They were coming here on a wintry Tuesday to see Manheim Steamroller and that blew my mind,” says Salsbery.
Salsbery is especially pleased with how well people have embraced the city’s new semi-pro hockey team.
“Who knew Idaho Falls was a hockey town?” she says. “We didn’t know what to expect. The whole city has embraced it. Every single game is sold out. We’re almost sold out for the 2024 season already. We have that mighty spud king logo and national merch sales are through the roof. Everybody wants to support the Idaho Falls Spud Kings.”
Bargatze was given a Spud Kings hat during his visit and he can be seen wearing it in this recent Instagram post.
People have utilized the Blue Cross of Idaho Conference Center as well, with 71 events in 2022, as of Nov. 18.
No event is complete without concessions, and fans definitely have their favorites. About 30,000 fountain sodas were sold throughout the year, and about 12,288 soft pretzels.
The most popular entree is the Texas loaded mac & cheese from Top Cheddar. Eagle Rock Burgers & Brew is the most-visited concession stand.
Tickets are already on sale for several big acts coming in 2024. Disney on Ice is coming in March for six performances. After a lot of requests, the venue will be hosting its first-ever professional bull riding and rodeo event on April 12 and 13.
Country singer/songwriter Parker McCollum will be performing inside the Hero Arena on Jan. 26.
And Salsbery says there’s a lot more in the works.
“We want to get local high school state athletics here in the worst way. We should be hosting these events. It shouldn’t always be in Boise,” says Salsbery. “We’ve got this big, beautiful building with the infrastructure and staff to do it. We’re really trying to work on getting those kinds of events here.”
Salsbery is grateful for the community support in 2023 and she’s looking forward to what she hopes is an even bigger year in 2024.
“We’ve had a lot of multi-day events where people are coming from out of town, staying overnight to watch a show, eating at restaurants and shopping at local businesses. That’s really important to us. We keep announcing shows and the community is very excited to see (what’s coming).”
Kelsey Salsbery poses for a photo in front of the hockey arena during a tour of the Mountain America Center. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com