Guest Post: Event Center Proposal

By Carter Christensen

The one key word of the current Events Center plan: Big mistake. I think it is ridiculous that the current Task Force filled by mostly conservative older folk thinks that they are planning the most ‘profitable’, most ‘ economically responsible’ Events Center that they can. It is so sad that the tax vote is going down in November if the legislature lets it pass to a vote. It is obvious that this ‘temporary tax’ that they want will not stay temporary and will easily be forgotten about in the coming years. There are a lot of people who just want the thing to be built, and there are also a lot of people who don’t want it to be built. But why don’t they want it built? Because either they don’t think Howard Wood should be torn down, they don’t want to be taxed another penny, or they just think it is an absolute waste of money to pay for it and we could easily find something else more meaningful to spend $200 Million Dollars on. It’s true! We could easily find something to shove $200 million dollars towards that would help the homeless or help the schools or something like that, but it just doesn’t make sense at least to me that Sioux Falls, the Heart of America with two Target’s (Munson in the LA Times), should lack in anything besides any other city in the region. Why should we have that image put on Sioux Falls?

As much as I love having event goers come into town to go to the Arena and Convention Center and drive down historic Russell Street with its industrial warehouses and patchy divided highway, it’s just that I think it is absolute crap that the Task Force and our out of clue City Council who works “SO DAMN HARD” to make sure that we have nice parks and make sure we leave Downtown as the last to plow for snow, that they think we should build a brand new 15,000 seat Events Center out by the current Arena. The only reason the plan is for out there is because the Big Mistake Convention Center that was built out there, which we all know should have been Downtown in the first place. The Task Force thinks by building a center out there we can add more convention space not only with the Events Center, but also by converting the current Arena into Convention space, and adding even more convention space onto that. WE DO NOT NEED ALL THAT CONVENTION SPACE. The Convention Center people say that we will get more events if we expand our Convention Center because we need more room to compete with Omaha and Minneapolis. Sorry, that’s bull, you know why? Because when convention’s look at cities, they look at where their Convention Center is, and what is around it for the event goers to do, and the hotel’s by it and the experience they will get by going to the Center. Call me out on it, but that’s even what Teri Ellis-Schmidt said at a meeting. She said that a convention was going to come to Sioux Falls but decided not to because there was nothing around our current Convention Center to do, not enough hotel space on site, and just a lack of entertainment in general up there. Is that not sending a message to the Task Force?

Here is my proposal, and call me out on anything you want and I will defend it: Build the EVENTS CENTER Downtown. By building the Events Center Downtown we don’t need to waste $15-30 Million Dollars just tearing down Howard Wood Field and moving it, which will probably cost even more. The funds are already in place for moving the rail road tracks, and by putting the plan to build it next to Cherapa, it will get that plan going and move the railroad tracks up by Rice Street which will benefit the railroad center in Sioux Falls. By building it in Downtown, we can use Private funding and sponsorship to pay for half of it. By building it downtown it will be cheaper, why? Because your only building the Events Center and surface parking, it will only cost about $120 Million to build it downtown which is $75 Million dollars cheaper than the current plan. If you sell sponsorship on everything, and I mean everything at this Events Center, you could easily pay for half of it right there. For the rest of the $60 Million use a Bed & Booze Tax, it is a very simple way to bring money in for the city because of the increase in hotel use not only Downtown but down by the mall to when people come in just for the mall. There are so many cities that use that.. I also believe that we should charge for parking in the first few years.. And last but not least, use a TIF. Tax Incremental Financing. By using a TIF only the businesses, BUSINESSES, that benefit from the center will get taxed, now it might not be a happy thing for some of the stores and restaurants Downtown, with the added business that they would get from this, they could easily help pay for it, since it will benefit them. Any other option would most likely have to go to a Bond. Now if anybody is still complaining about traffic and parking. STFU. There is over 1,000 more spaces downtown then there is out by the Arena, plus the extra 1500 spaces of surface parking they would build right next to it with the open land Downtown. Traffic is easy, not everyone is parked in the same place like the current Convention Center spot right now. People are parking on streets, in parking garages, in different surface lots, at hotels. And by being centered in the city, you have so many options of leaving Downtown. People will be going north, people will be going south, east, west, not everybody is leaving at the same time or same direction.



15 comments ↓

#1 Poly43 on 01.03.10 at 4:51 pm

Good writeup Carter. I have one issue.

Now if anybody is still complaining about traffic and parking. STFU.

Shut the fuck up???? No…I don’t think so. Existing parking concerning DT has been torn to shreds many times over. The numbers put out by those who want it DT put out numbers that are less than honest. Of course…you already know that. We’ve been down that road many, many times already.

#2 CCFlyer on 01.03.10 at 5:02 pm

Well without a doubt I know that there would be almost 2,000 additional parking spaces added or atleast surface parking that is planned. If we have to build a parking garage, we should build a parking garage, even if its expensive, and charge for it during events to help pay it off. Yeah it might add up to the total cost but it will be paid off using the TIF and everything else. Maybe even private sponsorship? We need enough parking and we can find a way to put it in there.

#3 Scott on 01.03.10 at 5:13 pm

You had me until the last few lines of the last paragraph.

#4 Plaintiff Guy on 01.03.10 at 6:46 pm

Interesting, the downtown location and TIF tax concept. Anything but added tax burden for the general population. This economy is worse than portrayed. If an events center is packaged into a federal stimulus and overseen by less corrupt federal overseers, go for it. Minneapolis to Omaha will be a midwest focus. Highway 60 (improved 4 lane) will bypass Sioux Falls. Both Minnesota and Iowa offer incentives without power player payoffs. This city should focus on what this mayor has ignored, infrastructure and constitutional litigation. For now, an events center is not in the cards.

#5 CCFlyer on 01.03.10 at 7:40 pm

@Scott .. Why is that?

#6 l3wis on 01.03.10 at 9:45 pm

I just watched KCPO’s political comedy show, ‘The FACTS’, representative Frank Kloucek was on and he opposes the tax increase to build an Events Center, he said something about the city of Sioux Falls being spend happy.

On a separate note he talked about introducing legislation that will make it illegal for a college president to serve on a corporate board. He was referring to David Chicoine and Monsanto.

#7 CCFlyer on 01.03.10 at 10:50 pm

Well if the legislature doesn’t let us have a vote on raising the sales tax, i’m going to go tell the City Council this, or I might wait until the new City Council comes in.

#8 l3wis on 01.03.10 at 10:56 pm

You should come to a meeting with me. It is fun to watch them squirm when I sit in the front row.

#9 Sy on 01.03.10 at 11:06 pm

CC is nuts-on correct, any city that’s paid to study the issue has had the same recommendation presented for these and several other reasons. We just seem to be caught in a worm hole mindset of wanting our downtown to flourish, we just do want to do anything to incentivise that.

#10 Plaintiff Guy on 01.04.10 at 9:11 am

This mayor and council has used the events center idea to deviate from failed policy. Fix what’s broke, then see if there’s interest and funding. Any political leader knows not to raise taxes and start a big project in a recession. Envision a 275 million debt, an 82 million flooding bond, a failed Washington Pavilion, Orpheum Theater expenditure, and service burden for present Munson ballfields/pool/Phillips. Then there’s also refunds/litigation for 10,000 camera tickets and uncollected debt from citations/platting fees. Yet also, state court constitutional litigation. Add a 160 million convention center and the city becomes paralyzed. Madoff Munson is trying to get ‘el developer’ contracts beyond his term. Your taxpayer con has ended.

#11 Costner on 01.04.10 at 10:10 am

CC: Here is my proposal, and call me out on anything you want and I will defend it:

Fair enough.

CC: By building the Events Center Downtown we don’t need to waste $15-30 Million Dollars just tearing down Howard Wood Field and moving it, which will probably cost even more.

There are many other options than simply tearning down HW field. One proposal has explained that building a parking ramp at the current Arena would provide just as many parking spaces at lower cost than tearing down and replacing Howard Wood… so there are alternatives.

CC: The funds are already in place for moving the rail road tracks

That doesn’t mean you can just forget about the $7-$10 Million price tag it will take to move them. That project can and likely will take years and it will probably end up costing millions more than originally planned. Just because the feds earmarked some money to make it happen in no way suggests it is “free” and thus needs to be included in the cost.

CC: By building it in Downtown, we can use Private funding and sponsorship to pay for half of it.

Why the hell does the location change this? If you can get sponsorship downtown, you can get sponsorship at the Arena, or any any number of other locations. Your point is moot.

CC: By building it downtown it will be cheaper, why? Because your (sic) only building the Events Center and surface parking, it will only cost about $120 Million to build it downtown which is $75 Million dollars cheaper than the current plan.

The facility itself won’t change dramatically from location to location, so the only thing that will vary costs is things like parking. If they build it at the Arena they probably need a new ramp, but if they build it downtime they likely will too since the river ramp is scheduled to be demolished and thus you can’t continue to count on having those hundreds of spaces available. Land costs downtown are higher than other alternative locations and as such the cost of every parking space will be greater.

I really don’t see how building this downtown will ever save any money much less $75M. That is a pipe dream based upon cherry picking figures and ignoring associated costs.

CC: If you sell sponsorship on everything, and I mean everything at this Events Center, you could easily pay for half of it right there.

Again, this could happen no matter where it is built. But I really don’t want an Events Center if it means a gigantic neon heart and chevrons above the name “Sanford Events Center”. I’d rather use tax dollars than further define someone’s legacy.

CC: Now if anybody is still complaining about traffic and parking. STFU. There is over 1,000 more spaces downtown then there is out by the Arena, plus the extra 1500 spaces of surface parking they would build right next to it with the open land Downtown.

Here is where you really go over the top. First, we all know about those lovely parking studies that counted EVERY SINGLE AVAILABLE PARKING SPACE DOWNTOWN, so yes they “might” show 1,000 more spaces at that location. However those studies were flawed in that they count every space – do you think perhaps some of those businesses and homeowners in the area might want to use those spaces?

What do you plan to do – require the streets to be empty every time you plan to bring Bon Jovi to town for a concert?

On top of it, they also counted every space in the public ramps. As discussed already, the river ramp is scheduled for demo with no replacement in sight. How many hundreds of spots are you going to lose right there? Add to that the fact the parking study even counted private lots which in some cases will be unavailable for events center parking (I doubt the Country Inn & Suites or Holiday Inn is going to allow EC event goers to use their lots etc) and Wells Fargo probably won’t be too happy with allowing their ramp to be used without compensation.

Now if you are talking about building more parking lots – that can happen anywhere so again your point is invalid. Perhaps you should know the whole story before telling others to STFU… either that or you should run for city council since you already have the proper mindset.

CC: Traffic is easy, not everyone is parked in the same place like the current Convention Center spot right now. People are parking on streets, in parking garages, in different surface lots, at hotels. And by being centered in the city, you have so many options of leaving Downtown. People will be going north, people will be going south, east, west, not everybody is leaving at the same time or same direction.

I don’t think you can make the traffic argument for a downtown location with a straight face. Almost any other location proposed would be superior to downtown in this regard, but that shouldn’t be a significant factor because it is known that people will need to deal with some level of traffic no matter where it is built.

Sure some people with go North and others South, West, or East, but that would happen at the Arena location as well… just as it does today for existing concerts. I’ve spent more time negotiating traffic after a parade downtown than I ever have after a Canaries game or a concert at the Arena, so to suggest traffic is a selling point for the downtown location is asinine.

Aside from that you have some valid points, but there can and will be pros and cons to every location. If you really wish to be taken seriously you need to be objective… and perhaps learn what a paragraph is.

#12 CCFlyer on 01.04.10 at 10:31 pm

Costner: There are many other options than simply tearning down HW field. One proposal has explained that building a parking ramp at the current Arena would provide just as many parking spaces at lower cost than tearing down and replacing Howard Wood… so there are alternatives.

CC: Well then the Task Force needs to make it known to the public. Because the only plan they are showing to the public is the one with Howard Wood Field gone.

Costner: That doesn’t mean you can just forget about the $7-$10 Million price tag it will take to move them. That project can and likely will take years and it will probably end up costing millions more than originally planned. Just because the feds earmarked some money to make it happen in no way suggests it is “free” and thus needs to be included in the cost.

CC: I never said it was free. I said we already have a budget set for it. It is a separate project that has to deal with separate funds. The removal of the tracks is already happening, if you go out there a lot of tracks have already been taken out, and by putting a center down there you could speed up that project so that more development could happen. If anything it will be paid for with the increased revenue from taxes already in place.

Costner: The facility itself won’t change dramatically from location to location, so the only thing that will vary costs is things like parking. If they build it at the Arena they probably need a new ramp, but if they build it downtime they likely will too since the river ramp is scheduled to be demolished and thus you can’t continue to count on having those hundreds of spaces available. Land costs downtown are higher than other alternative locations and as such the cost of every parking space will be greater.

I really don’t see how building this downtown will ever save any money much less $75M. That is a pipe dream based upon cherry picking figures and ignoring associated costs.

CC: That is $75 Million dollars or a couple million less that can go towards other city projects. Omaha didn’t build any ramps, they built all surface parking. There is room for us to build surface parking, plus the hotel surface parking if they build a hotel at Schoenmans. The River Ramp provides a couple hundred spots, which will easily be made up by surface parking if not another ramp. There is potential to add 1,340 surface parking spots within 1-2 blocks of the Cherapa site, which would mean about 500-800 Additional spots to Downtown, and replacing the River Ramp. Now not every event we have at the Center is going to have 12,000 people at it, so we wont need 5,000 to 6,000 spaces. We would only need 2,000 to 4,000 not even close to that.

Costner: What do you plan to do – require the streets to be empty every time you plan to bring Bon Jovi to town for a concert?

On top of it, they also counted every space in the public ramps. As discussed already, the river ramp is scheduled for demo with no replacement in sight. How many hundreds of spots are you going to lose right there? Add to that the fact the parking study even counted private lots which in some cases will be unavailable for events center parking (I doubt the Country Inn & Suites or Holiday Inn is going to allow EC event goers to use their lots etc) and Wells Fargo probably won’t be too happy with allowing their ramp to be used without compensation.

CC: Absolutely not, it doesn’t matter what event is going on, there will be traffic, and people have to realize that is what they will have to deal with to go to that event. Country Inn and Holiday won’t need to worry about that since they will have event goers staying there and parking there, and if anything they can charge for it, and give some of that revenue to the city if not just keep it. Wells Fargo could easily charge for parking at their ramp, it is perfectly fine. Go to larger cities, we had to pay $20 to $30 bucks to park 10 blocks away from the RCA Dome and the Bengals Stadium in Cincy.

Costner: I don’t think you can make the traffic argument for a downtown location with a straight face. Almost any other location proposed would be superior to downtown in this regard, but that shouldn’t be a significant factor because it is known that people will need to deal with some level of traffic no matter where it is built.

CC: Im not suggesting traffic is better downtown, Im saying it isn’t as bad as what people think. Get out of Sioux Falls and deal with REAL traffic then come back and complain. It’s something that people have to deal with. But not everybody is going to be leaving at the SAME TIME at a Downtown spot because people will go to restaurants and bars and back to their hotels and do other stuff afterwards. Yeah, a Canaries game. You mean all 2,500 people that go to those games right? It’s a big surface lot, its not that hard to get out of back onto a main drag like West or Russell. That is the same thing as leaving a surface lot by an Events Center Downtown and driving to 10th Street, or the one ways, or driving to 8th street which is a four lane.

#13 Costner on 01.05.10 at 7:33 am

CC: Well then the Task Force needs to make it known to the public. Because the only plan they are showing to the public is the one with Howard Wood Field gone.

You are incorrect – the option to build a parking ramp has been discussed in public and during task force meetings. How else do you think I would know about it – I don’t even know anyone on the task force.

The point is, it seems there are a lot of options out there and a lot of unanswered questions.

CC: That is $75 Million dollars or a couple million less that can go towards other city projects. Omaha didn’t build any ramps, they built all surface parking. There is room for us to build surface parking, plus the hotel surface parking if they build a hotel at Schoenmans. The River Ramp provides a couple hundred spots, which will easily be made up by surface parking if not another ramp. There is potential to add 1,340 surface parking spots within 1-2 blocks of the Cherapa site, which would mean about 500-800 Additional spots to Downtown, and replacing the River Ramp. Now not every event we have at the Center is going to have 12,000 people at it, so we wont need 5,000 to 6,000 spaces. We would only need 2,000 to 4,000 not even close to that.

I still don’t see how you plan to “save” $75M by building downtown – nobody familiar with the details of the project has even suggested such a thing. The fact is land values are higher downtown than they are almost anyplace in town aside from 41st street. If they did decide to build at hte current Arena site, the city already owns a park half a block away which could be easily converted into surface parking, or they can obtain land to the West of HW field which would be inexpensive in comparison to anything that could be bought downtown.

The fact is, building the facility downtown won’t save any money, so you need to base your opinion on other factors because cost savings won’t be one of them.

CC: Absolutely not, it doesn’t matter what event is going on, there will be traffic, and people have to realize that is what they will have to deal with to go to that event. Country Inn and Holiday won’t need to worry about that since they will have event goers staying there and parking there, and if anything they can charge for it, and give some of that revenue to the city if not just keep it.

I don’t think you are understanding how the parking study was performed, and I don’t think you understand the fact that the Holiday Inn isn’t likely to have every room booked by event goers who are utilizing the EC. What if they have a conference happening the same weekend the Events Center holds a Carrie Underwood concert – do you really think they will allow people to park in their ramp?

Do you really expect homeowners to the East of the proposed site to NOT park no the street? Do you expect downtown businesses to NOT have any customers or companies like Raven industries to simply eliminate their evening shift to allow their parking lots to be used for events held at the new EC?

The answer to these questions is no – and that is precisely why you cannot take that parking study at face value because it counted every single available parking space downtown whether it was in use or not. They counted private spaces which may not even be available, they counted a ramp which we know will be torn down and not repalced, they counted every single spot on city streets assuming every single spot could be availalble for EC parking – but the reality is that is nonsense.

There is no possible way there will be more legitimate parking spaces available downtown than there is at the existing Arena, and nobody can make such a claim with a straight face.

CC: Wells Fargo could easily charge for parking at their ramp, it is perfectly fine. Go to larger cities, we had to pay $20 to $30 bucks to park 10 blocks away from the RCA Dome and the Bengals Stadium in Cincy.

Wells Fargo could charge – as could other private lot owners, but that isn’t the point. Private business owners near the Arena could charge as well – but people don’t want to pay $20 to $30 to get a spot, and they most likely won’t do so in this area when the event they are going to only costs $15 to $25 a ticket (the most common events held will be regional sporting events and tournaments rather than concerts).

Again if you are citing the parking studies, you are assuming all of those spaces are available – and that may or may not be the case. For a nighttime concert – I’m sure Wells Fargo would be happy to lease out their ramp as would many other private lot owners, but for an event which takes place during the day such as a basketball tournament, those private lots will be in use by customers and employees.

Heck I know city employees that have to walk in excess of six blocks from city hall on a regular business day just to get a spot – I can’t imagine how much worse that would be with another 3,000 or 5,000 cars downtown at any given point.

CC: Im not suggesting traffic is better downtown, Im saying it isn’t as bad as what people think. Get out of Sioux Falls and deal with REAL traffic then come back and complain. It’s something that people have to deal with. But not everybody is going to be leaving at the SAME TIME at a Downtown spot because people will go to restaurants and bars and back to their hotels and do other stuff afterwards.

You comment was that people should STFU – which suggests nobody is entitled to speak about traffic. I simply disagree and there are many valid points to be made.

The argument about us having “real” traffic is also moot, because you simply cannot compare a city the size of Sioux Falls to one holding millions of people. There is a large segment of our population who live here specifically because it does not have the problems associated with larger cities such as traffic.

To suggest it doesn’t matter because we don’t compare to larger metro areas is akin to suggesting you shouldn’t bother to treat a cut on your hand because it isn’t as serious as losing an eye… it is simply an invalid argument.

As far as not everyone leaving an event at the same time, that might be true for some – but that would likely also be true at any other location as development will occur whereever the EC is built. Even if they put it at the existing Arena site, additional resturaunts will pop up, those hotels would likely expand and be updated, and many, many people would stay right in that area. This is pretty much another moot point.

CC: Yeah, a Canaries game. You mean all 2,500 people that go to those games right? It’s a big surface lot, its not that hard to get out of back onto a main drag like West or Russell. That is the same thing as leaving a surface lot by an Events Center Downtown and driving to 10th Street, or the one ways, or driving to 8th street which is a four lane.

I’m merely using an example that shows traffic at the current Arena site is likely better than it ever could be downtown. I’ve spent far more time walking to my vehicle and trying to negotiate traffic after Hot Harley Nights or after a parade than I ever have at a concert or event held at the current Arena.

Again my point is traffic is a legitimate concern, and people have every right to discuss options. Telling them to STFU simply suggests you are close minded and have no room for legitimate discussion – and that mindset won’t do you any favors.

I don’t mean to suggest I prefer the Arena site, but I’m just showing you how there are pros and cons to each location. Frankly I’m not even sure we need a new EC and I think it is just another pet project that someone thinks we really need when in reality we coudl easily go another 15 years without it.

If we really must have it, I’m not sold on the Arena location nor and I sold on the downtown location – but I suspect eventually this will come down to a public vote and at this current time I don’t think it has a chance of passing… so this is probably all just a waste of time (just as the EC task force has been a waste of time).

#14 l3wis on 01.05.10 at 7:40 am

Watch this episode of ‘Ask the Mayor’ and count the number of times each member of the panel mentions ‘listening to the public’

They should take their comedy show on the road. When has Munson ever ‘listened to the public’

#15 CCFlyer on 07.21.12 at 5:24 pm

Well over 2 years later, I’m reading this and I can not believe I used “STFU” in this post.

Good Heavens.