Entries Tagged 'Event Center' ↓

UPDATE: How did the Premier Center do in 2018?

UPDATE: I just checked the calendar of events for the Denty. From 2/22 until the end of October there is 31 events booked. Only ten of them are major concerts, the other 21 are mostly local sporting events (Storm and HS and College sporting events). Obviously there will be other concerts announced, but as of right now that is 3.5 events per month. Ouch.

I have been wondering for awhile, is the honeymoon over for the Denty?

Recently we found out that the long time GM was terminated and now the Marketing Manager is moving to another market for SMG.

With new management moving in, it would be a good time to crunch the numbers from 2018. I will be honest with you, I don’t follow what concerts and events go on out there. After spending almost $200 (ticket and beverages) to see the Foo Fighters, my hunger to attend shows there isn’t high on my priority list.

With the EC Campus Book Club meetings going on, even if they are meeting in private, I think that information would be important to their decision making. It’s even more important for the city council that is moving on the 2020 budget to know how the place is doing. Not only revenue sources, but ongoing sponsorships, economic impact, and as it seems, very expensive maintenance costs of the entire campus (parking/SF Stadium, Convention Center and Arena).

My guess is that 2018 was down from the previous two years. But the bigger question is how much and why? General Managers don’t just get fired on a whim. I have a feeling SMG knows the numbers and are concerned. I also think that the Mayor’s office knows the numbers to, this is probably the reason they want to hand the Orpheum contract over to the Pavilion.

I asked a couple of city councilors to make a request to the city’s finance department with a 2018 audit update of the Denty. We will see how long they stall.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls Secret Study Groups and a ‘War Room’

As transparency continues to go in the toilet bowl in our city (getting worse than the last administration) we found out last night that our (uncertified and overpaid) City Clerk did not have access to city contracts that the city council has to vote on in the consent agenda. Further more, the council doesn’t have access either and are expected to ask in advance of the contracts by NOON on Monday before the meeting on Tuesday. Apparently instead of these being filed in the clerks office (where they belong) they are filed in various other departments. Besides NOT being readily available to the Clerk and City Council, the citizens should be able to go into SIRE and read these contracts online. Reminds me of the disappearing act of the Executive Orders.

But it gets even better, today Mr. Epp decided to interview Deputy COS, TJ TypeOver about transparency and specifically the secret study group. While TJ tried his damnest to argue the administration has been transparent, there was a few snags in his testimony. 1) was how this secret group will have the opportunity to bid on RFPs that may be produced from the recommendations of the study group (well isn’t that F’ing convenient);

Nelson did not say members of the study group would be barred from bidding on any Requests for Proposals that might come out of the study. However, he said anything that comes out as an RFP will be “very clear and very prescribed.” He said it would not be an “open-ended stew.”

“This group is not an advisory board in the capacity of those (official) groups,” Nelson said. “So the study group is really no different than the mayor bringing in a consultant to create a report, beacuse this group is making recommendations for the Mayor’s office.”

He keeps peddling this two-sided story that on one end they are un-important volunteers then on the other end he calls them paid consultants. So which is it? But this statement should have us all worried (not in the text of KELO’s story, audio translated);

“There are times when you just have to shut the door and get stuff done.”

He also went on to say;

“We won’t get all the facts only the ones they feel we need to see.”

I had to rewind and make sure I wasn’t hearing former Mayor Bucktooth & Bowlcut. When it comes to government, these things must be open. We are not running some race to see who can redevelop this area the fastest. Most everyone who has attempted in the past has failed. The only thing that ever manages to stay viable is private entities that are propped up by taxpayers, like the recent hotel and restaurant that was built there. And also remember, even with all the success of the Denty, we still have to subsidize the place around $10 million a year for the mortgage payment out of the 2nd Penny CIP fund (intended for roads). Ramrodding any secret plans down the throats of the citizens or city council will only result in failure. Have we learned nothing about the history of this cursed area of town?


I have often argued when you open these discussions up for public inspection, some of the best ideas and suggestions from the public can be molded and refined by the specially selected ‘study group’. I don’t have an issue with study groups or task forces, but they must be open and they must involve people with NO conflicts of interest.

So there is another group meeting on the unfinished 3rd floor of the new administration building (Transit Study group), in which the group is calling the ‘War Room’. I guess solving our transit problem in Sioux Falls is like fighting a war. Who knew?

A SouthDacola foot soldier had a recent tour of the ‘War Room’ by the recently anointed by God, Innovation Director, Jason Reisdorfer. To Jason’s credit he did tell them that he was willing to show the war room to anyone that wanted to see it (City Councilors, public, etc.). I guess it is curtains suspended by poles with hundreds of sticky notes of ideas tacked to them.

Jason said that this study group is limited to 12 directors/management that work for the city. The group is also engaged in the Harvard/Bloomberg leadership training program, and learning how to solve problems as a group is part of the training and solving the transit issues.

On the more negative side of things, it appears that the study group will not be looking at older studies or ideas from the past. They also will not be bringing in experts at this time in the field of transit (it may happen in the future).

Some other things this person observed was that they felt Jason was unaware that the city OWNS Sioux Area Transit (SAM) and it’s busses, facilities, etc. and that the outside contractor only manages the the system and it’s employees. I would think this would be an important thing to know if you were leading this group.

They also observed an idea in the ‘War Room’ that businesses may be requesting bus passes for their employees at a discounted or FREE rate to help get their low wage employees to work. There is a whole host of reasons why this is a bad idea. It only encourages businesses to continue to pay poverty wages while getting subsidized by taxpayers. If these businesses want to PAY for the passes and GIVE them to their employees, so be it, but we shouldn’t be subsidizing a private industry so they have bigger profit margins by tapping into a low wage workforce by giving them free bus rides to work.

I asked a city councilor today if they knew about the ‘War Room’ and they said they were unaware, but I was told by another person today that the Argus did this story about it.

I’m not sure why the contracts are being withheld from the public, or what the EC Campus study group will be discussing or what the transit/leadership group is up to, but it’s time we let a little sunshine in on Sioux Falls city government, or I’m afraid it’s going to get very dark for our citizens.

UPDATE: On Facebook today Mayor TenHaken clarified that 15 city employees are going thru a leadership program administered thru the USD Beacom School of Business. The program is called ‘ONWARD’. Not sure if this is tied to the Transit group.

First the siding now the ceiling?

A SouthDacola foot soldier sent me this picture they took at the Fleetwood Mac concert. I know it is hard to see but there is a gaping hole in the ceiling with insulation hanging out. They said there was also air blowing out of the hole and the insulation was flopping around. This is what you get when you build an events center on a budget.

Maybe we should have done this BEFORE we built the Denty in that location?

Looks like we are trying to make something work after the fact. Should have been built Downtown.

No blame here on the TenHaken administration, they are just trying to polish a turd that the former Ram Rod Mayor plopped out.

Sioux Falls City Council avoids the 700 pound gorilla in the room

That wasn’t all entirely true, Councilors Brekke and Starr brought a little reason to the sewer rate increase discussion tonight after Rick Kiley had a total meltdown when Stehly called him out about disparaging the work of staff. Which made it even more ironically funny, because all Kiley does is constantly compliment staff sometimes just for opening the toilet stall door. So when Theresa reminded him that staff helped her come up with her numbers, Ricky Lee went ballistic, twice. Memorable stuff.

Soehl suggested that she share her information in advance (you know, like the rest of the council does with Theresa and Pat . . . LOL!)

But let’s get to the serious stuff. Janet was smart to bring up the history of the 2nd penny and it’s use for infrastructure and Starr quoted Citizen Stanga wondering why so much of the 2nd penny goes towards ‘play things’.

Most people don’t realize, when you buy anything in this town, a portion goes towards paying down the bonds on the Denty from the 2nd penny. Whether you use the facility or not (in which you have to purchase a ticket) you still have to pay for it’s mortgage. You can always sit outside for free and admire the ‘interesting’ siding.

The council totally ignored the gorilla. While they argued up and down that sewer rates must rise to pay for upgrades because it is only fair to charge the user, they avoided the fact that the play palaces bonds in our town are not paid for by user fees, not one penny. Brekke and Starr came the closest to suggesting we have a long term strategic plan to look how we spend the 2nd penny (to which they got crickets). All they could focus on was that Stehly said $300.

If you want to have an honest and fair conversation about user fees and paying down bonds, as several councilors suggested, then we need to start talking about how the Denty is going to start paying it’s own bonds moving forward. I don’t think a person who can afford to pay $150 to see a Jackass in a cowboy hat would blink an eye at paying an extra $3-5 ticket fee for bonds. Heck, most wouldn’t even notice it after there $10 Coors Light and $8 dollar pretzel.

If the council thinks it is fair to raise rates to pay for sewer infrastructure then they need to also pass a city ordinance that attaches a bond repayment ticket fee to all the shows at the Denty. Otherwise they are just a bunch of hypocrites . . . wait?!

There is an alternative that would cost us less

Another portion of the conversation that was left out tonight is the simple word ‘conservation’. Actually, Public Works Director Cotter was the ONLY one who brought it up, recognizing that the conservation programs he helped implement have reduced water usage. And you can’t argue with his numbers, they are astounding and measurable (bravo to Cotter). While he gave this ‘gentle hint’ to the council, no one decided to run with it. We could actually spend a lot less by implementing even stronger and more stringent water conversation programs which would decrease our sewer usage. Many have even suggested eliminating lawn watering by planting more draught resistant natural grasses instead of non-native ones.

Besides just considering the 2nd Penny, we have alternatives to save us money on these projects, but as Brekke has suggested since she ran for the office, it takes PLANNING!

UPDATE: Was the Denty’s GM, Torkildson let go?

UPDATE: It seems Jorgi at Stormy is a bit baffled by Terry’s disappearance;

The man in charge of the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center is no longer there.  It’s a story that has a lot of people scratching their heads. It has a lot of people asking what happened to Terry Torkildson.

As I reported on Friday, it sounds like a lot of internal corporate crap. I do know that Torkildson is in shock. I also heard that it had to do with the lack of brown nosing skills Terry had compared to Chris Semrau. Let’s just say one of them was a lot better at smoozing then the other one. I guess that is why one of them was promoted and the other one was let go. Hopefully we will hear more in the coming week.

I’m hearing from several sources that the GM of the Denty was terminated. Not sure if that happened today? I also no few details as to why or if it really happened.

As you know, Torkildson has been with SMG for many years, and to be very clear, this would have been a decision by their corporate offices and NOT City Hall (I would assume).

It comes as a surprise really, because I felt Terry was doing a good job. He fought like a good soldier to get the Denty, and for attendance records it was doing well (even though SMG hasn’t paid a penny of the mortgage). He also was always up front with me and even pulled me aside a few times at council meetings to set me straight on details I blogged about, which I appreciate.

As you know, Terry was the one that told then councilor Rex Rolfing in a recorded council coffee meeting that the dented up siding on the Denty made it “Look interesting.” That still cracks me up.

With most things corporate America, I’m sure it has to do with internal garbage, and one has to wonder about this taking place so shortly after Chris Semrau left Sioux Falls to take on another position elsewhere with SMG? I have been told some reasons why it may have happened, but at this point I’m not going to speculate.

The Denty bonds have never been paid for with user fees

Remember former Mayor Bucktooth & Bowlcut’s mantra? Facilities/services should be paid for through user fees.

This has been the argument for raising sewer and water rates to pay the treatment plant bonds.

Yet, all of these facilities have NEVER been paid for through user fees;

Indoor Pool, Admin building, Huether Tennis Center and most famously the Denty.

The idea was certainly pitched that every ticket purchased at the Denty would have a fee attached to it to help pay down the $9 million a year mortgage. The former mayor responded something like this, “We will certainly look at it.”

While the Denty has done a good job covering operating expenses and management fees, it has contributed very little to capital improvement or paying the mortgage, both which come from the 2nd Penny (we all pay it when we purchase something in Sioux Falls).

A $5 ticket fee or more could easily be attached to the ticket price to help pay down the mortgage, other facilities across the nation do it, but SMG has said that artists and promoters set ticket prices and are opposed to it. Phooey!

How much did the city make from the Garth Brooks concert?

Yeah, I know, DaCola asked this question months ago, but I guess it takes a cute reporter from KSFY to get the answers (well not really);

The state made about $810,000 dollars on sales tax alone from Garth’s performances at the PREMIER Center.

The city’s take would be around $540K (1st penny, 2nd Penny and 3rd penny entertainment). As mentioned throughout the story, most of the money made went to Brooks and the promoters, which went straight out the door. This is why I have encouraged SMG and the city to start promoting it’s own concerts and keeping that revenue in Sioux Falls.

Rapid City, be careful what you wish for

Rapid City just approved spending $130 million on a new Events Center. While I don’t live in RC, I can’t speak for what the people there want, but if they truly want it, who am I to tell them no. But as a person who went through this very dubious process in our city, a few words of advice;

Go with the flat siding, no matter what the architect and engineer may say. Trust me on this one.

Consider NOT using a CMAR (Construction Manager at Risk) I would keep the process as open as possible.

Use a local contractor that you can trust.

Make sure you have plenty of parking.

Make sure profits go towards paying down the bonds and not into some mysterious slush fund.

Avoid sponsorships from mega hospital complexes and credit card companies.

Make sure you build it big enough.

Make sure your fire department has a fire truck that can reach the top.

And lastly, when the mayor or the city council tells you to ‘just trust them’ do the opposite and question their intentions.

Not sure why RC residents want to double their per capita debt (or more) but have it, just remember, there will be less headaches if you keep the process open and transparent.

Who signed off on the Events Center Siding?

I know what you are thinking. Haven’t we been down this road already Detroit? Yes. But while we have our suspicions as to who probably signed off on it, we have never had confirmation.

If I was a betting man, it was probably signed off by the head guru, Mayor Huether. That large of a change order would have had his approval in some form or another.

But did he actually sign off on a document or directed one of his minions to do it verbally?

I don’t know. But I have to wonder if it will appear before the runoff election.

While council candidate Brekke was digging through city documents there was no inkling if she came across such a document, doubt she was even looking for it. But I also think her access and finding the confidentiality order has led OTHERS to start digging around.

I know that some in the media and even within city government have gotten rather curious after Brekke’s press conference and I wouldn’t doubt some other documents will appear, soon. Will the change order suddenly rear it’s ugly head?

Even if we do find the smoking gun, I’m sure none of us will be all that surprised that it was the butler in the billiard room using the candlestick.