Still a lot of unanswered questions about the sale of the Fairgrounds

When are politicians going to realize we might start trusting them if they start being transparent?

Minnehaha County commissioners could move forward soon on the question of what to do with the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds, including the prospect of selling the land and moving the Sioux Empire Fair to a new location.

“I think it will be soon,” Commissioner Dick Kelly said. “It’s been an information-gathering process. Now we’ve got all the facts, or opinions.”

Kelly said he hopes all the questions are settled before officials begin work on the next budget, which starts next month. The fairgrounds, he added, have an effect on both the county’s short- and mid-term budget outlook.

Sanford already has submitted two reports to the county, including one that analyzes the legal issues as to whether the county can sell the land. Kelly characterized them as “draft reports,” meaning they are not available to the public.

And there isn’t many answers in the rest of the story either.

Sweetman Construction, which operates a nearby quarry, has been mentioned as a possible buyer for the site, but Sanford said there has been no talk of selling the land and no negotiations.

Yeah, sure, you betcha. If that is true, let’s see the reports.


#1 James Milne on 05.10.10 at 7:39 pm

Perhaps I missed something whilst hiding in my cave, but are they looking for a new location for the fairgrounds or are they just flat out looking to get rid of it? The cry about no place for events, then ditch the place that at least in summer actually has something worth going to.

#2 l3wis on 05.11.10 at 5:38 am

I think they just want to get rid of the fairgrounds. While I think it needs to be upgraded I wonder if we get rid of the grounds where will all the events that cannot afford the Convention Center go? Like Benson’s Flea Market and Roller Derby? We need a county facility that doesn’t rape local events like the flea market.

#3 James Milne on 05.11.10 at 8:04 am

Exactly! I like the hot rod swap meet and to be honest I don’t know where they could go without charging some insane admission charge.

#4 John on 05.11.10 at 8:21 am

The fair grounds is a potential pot of money for the commission to spend. The idea is to sell the mineral rights for somewhere between 50 to 60 million. Build a new fair grounds for 20 and spend the rest. It is time for new county commissioners. Not just the fair problems but also the multicultural center, etc.

#5 l3wis on 05.11.10 at 10:17 am

They just want to eliminate it entirely so the CVB can pickup the slack.

#6 James Milne on 05.11.10 at 11:07 am

They cry about some vendors not being able to present at the conv center, what do they think will happen when our largest venue is destroyed? While the fairgrounds have had their problems, a modest investment could make it a great place that would attract more shows. I counted 6 concerts in August, and you know those will do well. I wonder about the people in charge sometimes and the insane logic used to justify their actions.

#7 Costner on 05.11.10 at 12:44 pm

Actually selling (or leasing) the land for the mineral rights isn’t a bad idea if the net result is a positive. They just need to ensure they are getting fair market value and not let one party artificially devalue the true price for personal gain.

Let’s face it, the fairgrounds are dated and need to be improved – so why not build new fairgrounds alongside a new Events Center to get the most bang for the buck?

They could go to the other side of I-29 just North of Madison and have just as nice of a location with easy access. It would then be a true multi-use site that can be utilized year-round for something other than Billion car sales or a once a year fair.

#8 Sy on 05.11.10 at 1:26 pm

On paper the County could potentially reap some serious benefits, but just like the Minnehaha Country Club purchase the legal costs associated with fighting the Lyon’s heirs and others who could potentially join the fight (like say the Everist’s) would be huge.

and locating an Events Center out by the Interstate would also bring out the NIMBY’s as well. All it takes is one to object and you could see another 10 year delay.

#9 l3wis on 05.11.10 at 1:40 pm

I heard the company that wants to buy the land is the one doing the appraisal on it. So yes Costner, the county (us) will get screwed on the deal.

#10 Plaintiff Guy on 05.12.10 at 8:45 am

Give it back to the indians.

There would be a casino and convention center to compete with northwest Iowa.

It took 200 years, but native americans have learned land value. They’re certainly smarter than politicians. It’s impossible to default when a reservation is free from real estate taxes.

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