Believe it or not, like the new Hockey Ice Center, I support the expansion of Great Bear. I think that Great Bear has proven with it’s attendance numbers, it is very popular and worthy of capital dollars;

The staff at Great Bear is celebrating a big step towards expanding the popular slopes.

“Our last expansion was in 2000. Back then we were seeing 22,000 visits a year. Last year, we did 43,000,” General Manager Dan Grider said.

Tuesday night, they presented the master plan to the city parks board and received overwhelming approval.

As I have stated in the past, recreation projects in Sioux Falls that are ‘needed’ will have usage, and hopefully financial sustainability, like the city golf courses. I will confess that I was a little leery about supporting the expansions in the past of Great Bear, but have changed my tune. I have never expected our city parks or bike trail to make money, they are amenities that can be used at no charge.  But I do think the recreational facilities such as the Ice-plex and Great Bear should generate enough revenue to sustain.

Congrats to Great Bear on the expansion!

23 Thoughts on “Is Great Bear a worthy expansion project?

  1. What is the operating subsidy for Great Bear? Do gate receipts cover, say, 50% of its operating costs? I’m genuinely interested – I honestly don’t have any idea what Great Bear’s finances look like.

  2. pathloss on December 19, 2013 at 7:45 pm said:

    It’s a dead sandpit not worth much until a few believers found a function. Not much snow the past few years but books stay balanced. Commendable & now a fixture. Lots of area to expand. How about snowshoe area, summer mountain biking, orienteering, mudman obstacle marathon, etc.. Lots of possibility now that it’s not known as the Morrell exit.

  3. pathloss on December 19, 2013 at 7:48 pm said:

    Uh $165k here instead of private indoor tennis for the Huether’s.

  4. One of the reason’s Great Bear has been so successful is because of their GM, Grider. I hear nothing but positive things about Dan and how hard he works. Maybe they could have him take over the Wash Pav Management and teach them a few things about running a non-profit.

  5. grudznick on December 19, 2013 at 8:31 pm said:

    A fat bear is a happy bear so expand away. But they should dig the hole deeper instead of wider.

  6. pathloss on December 19, 2013 at 9:07 pm said:

    I was in Vermont this summer. The big thing is Mudman. Running along ski trails over logs thru tires. Kinda iron man thing. I had to go to peak at Killington & had to wait 2 hours for lift. 10,000 attended. Pass this idea to Grider.

  7. pathloss on December 19, 2013 at 9:19 pm said:

    I go to mountain comm sites. Helicopters, snowcats, cougars, bears, 20 mi. from nowhere. No wonder I’m psycho. Fly fishing in Vermont wow.

  8. Titleist on December 19, 2013 at 9:33 pm said:

    PUBLIC Outdoor skiing!


  9. Now why would we spend all that money on something that’s only open 4 months out if the year?

  10. Badbenboyenemy on December 20, 2013 at 9:06 am said:

    It’d be nice if they’d let people ride their mountain bikes on the already existing trails at the park in the summer.

    As of right now, if you’re caught riding on the trails illegally, for whatever reason, your bike will be confiscated and you can be fined and or jailed for trespassing. How stupid is that to not let the public use the park during the off season?

    If it’s a private park, then charge a few bucks for entrance and keep the trails maintained or let the local trail clubs maintain them.

    To that, make it a multi-use trail and let people hike the trails as well. Maybe supplement their winter activities by opening up some snowshoeing trails as well.

  11. Title – Isn’t amazing that people are actually using Great Bear DURING THE WINTER! Get out of here! People exercising and recreating OUTDOORS! IN THE WINTER! Don’t they know the only exercise and recreation that can be done in the winter in SF must be indoors! If I knew a public indoor pool could be self sufficient (standing alone) I would support it, not gonna happen.

  12. scott – I know, when I drive past Great Bear in the Summer, it just makes me sick to my stomach that I don’t see anybody skiing.

    BadBoy – I would agree, there has been discussion about having hiking trails out there.

  13. Badbenboyenemy on December 20, 2013 at 10:49 am said:

    From what I’ve been told, the person(s) who donated the land to the city for recreational use did so with the caveat that the land couldn’t be used for motorized vehicles, or something along those lines.

    Apparently a bicycle is a motorized vehicle to some folks, so that’s why the cops will confiscate your bicycle from you if you’re caught riding on the already existing trails, even though your bicycle doesn’t have any kind of motor or engine attached to it.

    It’s completely insane that this land isn’t utilized in the summer at all, as it has great potential as a multi-use property for bikers and hikers alike. This trail network is a quick ride or drive from the newly created trails over at Leaders Park that have proven to be popular with mountain bikers.

    Perhaps somebody in an official capacity could clear up the land use rights on the property at Great Bear, as I’m simply repeating what I’ve been told over the years.

  14. pathloss on December 20, 2013 at 11:32 am said:

    City sports are pickle ball, tennis, horseshoes, maybe swimming. It has to be private and named Sanford before it can be something citizens want to watch or do.

  15. I think many of you are missing the point in comparing Great Bear and an outdoor pool. Look at all of the options that people have come up with with just this blog for year around use at Great Bear? There are possibilities even without a bike. An outdoor pool? – zero, none. Your comparison is embarrassing. You sound nothing but petty and even using four months still beats the crap out of 10 weeks – and that’s in a good year.

  16. You could ice skate on the outdoor pools during the winter.

  17. Big Boy, when SFCS or was it Catholic Diocese? Can’t remember, but they had a Summer Jam out there a couple of times as a fundraiser, I went the first year, had a good time. I think that is where I met Sy in person for the first time. I thought it was a perfect venue for an outdoor concert.

  18. Ice skate on an area the size of a pool?

    I attended the concert at Great Bear. It was awesome!

  19. There was a big festival out there in the late 70’s. Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Pure Prairie League, etc. It was a huge event that never happened again.

  20. Great Bear is booked pretty much every weekend during the summer for weddings, reunions, company picnics and so on.
    I believe it is not a hiking area as management and the city is fearful that equipment will be wrecked and towers will be climbed by all the feral youth that run wild.

    Bad apples always spoil the bunch.

  21. Badbenboyenemy on December 21, 2013 at 7:14 am said:

    Since when do renegade hikers, or bikers for that matter wreck any kind of equipment? Does this happen on regular occasion at any other known rec area?

    Maybe it’s the prospect of the land being illegal that would bring mischievous teenagers to the area to wreck stuff, if that really is the case.

    Anyway, it’s supposed to be a recreation area. I don’t know what weddings and concerts have to do with hiking trails being closed to the public. The more you flesh this nonsense out, the less sense it begins to make!

  22. Ah yes, I vaguely recall that show.

    They should hold a couple of those a year out there, I’ve wondered why they haven’t..definitely would help fund the expansion plans. Did the neighbors complain or what?

    I agree they should open it up for bikes too, amazing terrain and bikers of all skill levels would use it a lot.

    The mudman thing would be cool too, but I think they already are doing that at another site.

  23. Karma: “Look at all of the options that people have come up with with just this blog for year around use at Great Bear? There are possibilities even without a bike. An outdoor pool? – zero, none.”

    If we really wanted to use them we could find ways – but much like finding a use for a golf course in January, there really isn’t a need, because they are SMALL spaces not to be compared to something like Great Bear that includes acres and acres of land area that is vastly underutilized in the non-winter months.

    However, if you must insist upon having everything in this city used year round in order to justify the expense (let me know what your plans are for the soccer fields and snowplows in the off season by the way), then here are some ideas to get you started:

    * The obvious answer… Curling! I can see it now… the national Curling championships in lovely Sioux Falls.

    * We could also stock the pools with perch and allow city kids to experience ice fishing in their local neighborhood.

    * Put some waterproof colored lights at the bottom and fill up the pools before the big freeze and you have a lightshow to attact visitors.

    * Ice skating and figure skating.

    * Outdoor youth hockey (non-standard rink sizes obviously)

    * Fill up the pool with grape kool-aid before the first hard freeze, bring in some ice augers = world’s largest snowcone production facility!

    * Utilize the parking lot for unofficial break rooms for city employees (already there dude!)

    * Install flags to make the lots part of cross-country skiing trails

    * Cut blocks of ice from the pools and use them for the Sioux Falls 1st annual ice scuplting expo!

    * Use the parking lots as meeting places for craigslist casual encounters.

    * Ice tracks for RC race competitions

    * Staging areas for hot air balloon rides

    * Unofficial snow fort construction areas

    * Last, but not least… three words: Zamboni demolition derby!

    Sure some of these require tongue to be firmly planted in cheek, but on the other hand we could probably admit we don’t have a lot of use for the baseball diamonds and softball fields during the exact same times we don’t utilize outdoor pools (when cold and/or when raining) yet I don’t hear anyone suggesting the city should build an indoor baseball field.

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