Event Center column about 8 years too late

Many people have been talking about this article that popped up on the Argus Leader site on Friday. It is by the supposed anonymous food critic ‘Secret Fork’. Many have speculated, including myself, that Secret Fork isn’t such a big secret, but the GM of the Argus Leader, Cory Myers. While there has never been any confirmation of that, I don’t think the Argus would allow a food critic to write this article unless they were in some kind of leadership position, but speculation aside, let’s review;

It’s high time to declare a loss on the so-called Sports and Entertainment District.

Duh?! As I said in the title of this post, this article should have been written years ago. The EC was never going to revitalize the area, study after study proved that. The obvious recommendation was a Downtown location;

It turns out the question of whether the voters would support such a project was intertwined with proposed locations. Very early on in the process, a tug of war developed between those who wanted the project downtown versus those who felt the Arena/Howard Wood area was more suitable. 

The voters would have supported a DT location, if it were explained to them. But it really is moot, because the vote on the EC was not legal and only an advisory vote. If a legal vote would have been put on the ballot, the EC would have had to receive 60% of the vote to pass. This was a trick played so the City Council could approve this project without citizens really weighing in. I still run into people who actually thought their vote on the EC mattered. It wasn’t worth the paper the ballot was printed on. It was pretty much a straw poll with voting centers.

Still, the capacity to absorb any measurable chunk of a concert crowd in the so-called “district” remains elusive. But those crowds most certainly eat and drink before and after events. Where? Downtown. That’s the very definition of irony. And failure. In a city where we have literally turned salvage yards into showcases and breathed new life into aging industrial buildings, that’s unacceptable.

Some people eat DT before events, but most of the people who attend the EC for events drive directly there, spend any money they do have eating and drinking there then go home. And why wouldn’t they? When you spend $200+ on a ticket and probably another $50 on drinks and food, you really don’t have a lot of extra dough to go DT before or after an event.

I’ll say it until I am blue in the face, doesn’t matter if we would have built a smaller EC downtown or the current one. It is a drain on the city. All of the money sucked in from the facility (I estimate around $20 million + a year) goes directly out the door to promoters, artists and vendors and never gets recirculated in our community. Add that it costs taxpayers (from the 2nd penny) another $10 million + a year for the bond and maintenance on the facility and all you really have is a money vacuum sucking it right out of our town. Imagine if the $30 million spent in entertainment each year was spent on local venues, can you imagine the impact? We could have that right now if we never built that place.

I have speculated for a long time the management company that runs the EC has preferred that location all along, because they knew that people coming from out of town would drive directly there and spend their money there. Do you really think they would have wanted people eating and drinking in locally owned restaurants and bars DT before the show and spending very little once they walked in? They have also rejected an idea I pitched to the city council we add a bond fee to each ticket (around $5) saying it would hurt ticket sales and promoters and artists are against it. Other cities do it with much success and they just simply write it into ordinance and the promoters and artists have to accept it if they want to perform here.

This place has been a Class A disaster from the beginning, just like the long list of other failed projects by a credit card salesman (Admin building, Bunker Ramp, etc.) and who can forget his terrible negotiation with the railroads allowing them to run even more trains through downtown after handing them $27 million for Federal land we probably already owned. Everything this man touched turned to sh!t, but I could have told you that 8 years ago.



11 comments ↓

#1 Roger Elgersma on 07.11.21 at 9:21 pm

What soured city hall about down town was when I went to city hall and said that when the insurance guy who was asked to buy the Zip feed mill for whatever it took had spent twice the current market value with the promise that he would be reimbursed. I said that was a lot of money between market value and purchase price so how much of that money would be coming back as kickbacks to mayor and councilmen. Suddenly the insurance guy was stuck with it. I later had reason to believe that he was just the guy that got stuck inbetween without knowing that a kickback might be coming. But the concerning part is that later the same mayor and mostly the same counsel bought the land that later became the new city hall for twice market value as well. So did they get their kickback later on a different parcel of land. That piece of land was supposedly bought to sell the the feds for a new post office which never got built. So after putting to much money into it the city paid twice the market price and made a parking lot out of it and Mayor Munson told Huether that would be just right for a new city hall.

#2 SouthernExposure on 07.11.21 at 10:45 pm

So the Secret Fork is a Republican ?

#3 Soithern Exposure on 07.11.21 at 10:48 pm

Pat Powers is the Secret Fork ! However, Pat wouldn’t be considered a food critic judging from his waste line.

#4 Sy on 07.12.21 at 9:46 am

This actually pre-dates Huether and goes back to the Smith/Munson feud. We almost had a $50 million indoor athletic complex with soccer, tennis, and competition swimming at Drake and a properly sited Event Center at Cherapa but thanks to Stehly and Rath, Munson folded up and we got to dick around for 10 years before MyManchild showed up to slam dunk both projects most of the City had wanted for a long time.

The truth is the only way this thing would’ve been paying the City back directly or indirectly was properly siting it downtown, where all the $300 million or so you see being built/broke ground on now would’ve been completed and we’d be on to the next $300 million that would be coming behind it. Build it Downtown told the AECOM folks all this and it was as true then as it was today, Huether instead buried that info and highlighted the “flat floor space” for conventions myth and most of the dim witted (like Stu at the AL) went right along with that talking point, never mind that in order to host a 5,000 person convention, you need several thousand hotel rooms on site or connected, we had what? 200 on site or nearby? Why no media called them out at the time is beyond me.

The best bet for the S&E district is to finish the build out with sporting fields for multiple sports and try to compete for regional tourney business against places like Blaine, MN or West Chester, OH.

#5 D@ily Spin on 07.12.21 at 10:45 am

The vote for the EC was: Do you want an events center downtown or at the convention center? There should have been another vote beforehand about whether we wanted an EC. Instead, we got swindled with what we didn’t want where it shouldn’t have been built.

Downtown has come to life but not because of city government.

I think Huether has been busy buying land on the moon. Perfect, it’s unowned and without clear title. I’ll vote for him if he runs for mayor there although it’s not far enough away.

#6 Mike Lee Zitterich on 07.12.21 at 2:24 pm

Stop Criticizing my Neighborhood and think of ways to improve my neghborhood. I am tired of all the money being pushed Downtown.

While I am a supporter of Downtown, and frequent events downtown alot, I was one of the proud supporters of placing the Event Center at the Sports Complex.

Many of us felt it was the best plan possible, the land was already owned by the city, the parking was there, Hotels were there (Ramada, Sheraton, Sioux Falls Hotel, a New Holiday Inn was in the works, let alone you got access to the Downtown Holiday Inn, and Days Inn North of the Airport.

The CITY needs to develop a real plan as for to completely go thru and completely Redevelop the Industrial Park along West Russell, the West Sioux Neighborhood now is headed to revamping many of its older Commercial Space along Madison and Burnside Street, and there are future plans in the works to connect West Russell Street on thru North Drive, to Chambers Street to Rice Street as a thru access connection connecting Brandon and Ellis.

The Event Center was built in the heart of the City, was built in the right spot, as it was always suppose to be, and with some creativity, and thought process by developers, ‘we’ can make this area the Grand Entrance to Downtown Sioux Falls from the “West Side”.

My plan to reform and build the SIOUX FALLS ARENA into a nice facility called the SIOUX FALLS FAMILY & RECREATIONAL YOUTH CENTER must more aggressively be spoken of as part of my plan to Save the Arena.
I have been talking to the City Council about doing this, creating from the Arena a Family and Youth Recreational Center that could possibly host a Daycare Service, Free Lunch Service, and a number of other Activities. I often thought of creating a “Movie Theatre” from one side of the upper Balcony, and a playground area on the ground floor, with a Daycare Service Area somewhere in the building.

You also could retrofit the Arena to house Conference Rooms, Extended Health and Human Resource Offices, could host Offices for the Sioux Falls Stampede, the Sioux Falls Storm, the Boys and Girls Scouts who all could be utilized by contract to provide many of the family and youth activities themselves, We would move the Department of Parks and Recreational Department to the Sioux Falls Arena placing the facility within their jurisdictional control, with all revenues directed to Parks and Recreation.

Sioux City built their Long Lines Family and Rec Center from the old Auditorium, we could do the same with the Arena.

It could be part of a 20 Year Retrofit Development Plan to Upgrade and Rebuild the Sioux Falls Arena. The building is paid off, the land is owned by the City, and the ‘taxes’ could then be put back into our Future Generations by means of Family and Youth Activities, After School Programs, Free Lunch Programs, and of course a “Tax Payer Funded Daycare Service.
Mike Zitterich

(605) 376-0527
MIKE ZITTERICH FOR HONEST GOVERNMENT

#7 l3wis on 07.12.21 at 2:50 pm

Jamison pitched a similar idea before the EC was built. While I think it would be awesome, I’m not sure if it would get much traction in the current make up of city government. Maybe someday?

#8 D@ily Spin on 07.12.21 at 8:12 pm

It is what it is. It happened the Huether way (what he wanted where he wanted it and cost plus without competitive bid). He got rich by awarding the contract to a corrupt enterprise. The best that can be done now is accept it hoping it isn’t condemned because of inferior construction. Huether’s follies invoked major debt and a lower bond rating. The bright side is city oligarchy doesn’t have funds for future foolishness. I get a good laugh when I walk past the 6 story obsolete parking garage. It adds to the sculpture walk. It’s a Huether Picasso that emphasizes his insanity.

#9 The Guy From Guernsey on 07.12.21 at 8:18 pm

Someone on the editorial board most likely penned this most recent submission.
Judging by differences in writing style and the varying references to person and family, I think there have been a series of separate individuals who have cycled through penning “The Secret Fork” since the origin of the column. Gannett is certainly not going to assist an individual in building a personal brand the result of contributing food and restaurant review pieces.
Regardless, the Argus Leader Editorial Board solidly supported a “Yes” vote in Nevember 2011. So if this was written by someone on the current editorial board, extremely bad form for that person to come now with, “we told ya’ so.”

#10 Rufusx on 07.14.21 at 12:30 pm

Zitterich, who are the youth, or even better, where are the youth who this center would serve? How many miles away from there do they all live? Will free rides be a part of the center’s service? Community services need to be built in the communities they are intended to serve. Not in some Services “mall” by an Interstae somewhere. This us especially true of youth Services. Modern urbanism and urban planning is a whole different animal to the kind of suburban mindset you exhibit.

#11 Mike Lee Zitterich on 07.15.21 at 4:36 pm

This is what is bad about using ‘fake troll names” – I do not know who this RUFUSX is so there can be no meaningful conversation on my agenda. “Urbanization” aka Democrat lingo for pushing people into large demographic cities, and less people residing outside the city.

I am on a mission to “SAVE THE ARENA” and keep it as a valuable asset to the Community, And I know many like me who want the same.

This building can and will be a great building for both families and our youth alike, let alone can be an awesome place to host parties, events, activities, and business meetings, yet alone be used in such manner I can recall my early childhood activities as Boy Scout, a member of the Boys Club, and other Youth Groups.

The problem some of you have, is you want to get away form what made Sioux Falls a great place to live, play, entertain themselves, yet alone, you all forgot what it was like to ‘grow up’ in Sioux Falls.

You are all to busy playing on your phones, instead of getting out and into the community, taking in nature, enjoying life, that you forgot to take care of our number one asset – Our Families, Our Children, our Communal Support Based Activities.

I encourage you to look more into what and how Sioux City has transitioned the old Coliseum, give it an “HONEST” look, and then get back to me, and then, and only then can you see same vision I see with the Sioux Falls Arena.

I provide you one news source to make my point,

https://siouxcityjournal.com/news/citizens-compose-long-lines-family-rec-center-consortium-board-who-will-run-the-rec-center/article_c23d25c6-ec54-530c-9efc-07d0bc84a442.html

For Sioux Falls to grow, it cannot lose touch with what made it become a great city today, for what made it great was when the “community” came together to support Family, Childhood Activities, and Progams that United them all in one collective environvent.

Sincerely,
Mike Zitterich

p.s please provide your real name so I know who I am talking to, thank you.