So the Minnehaha County Commission got a surprise this morning;

Knife River Corp., owner of the former Concrete Materials Co., has offered Minnehaha County $65 million for the  William H. Lyon Fair Grounds.

Maybe it wasn’t that big of a surprise.

A 1999 task force went through a similar exercise with consultants and concluded the fair needed $31 million in capital improvements, but the county didn’t identify a source for the funds, Meyer said.

“It also struggled to develop an operating business model that made the fair self-sustaining and no longer continually dependent upon county subsidies as it is today,” he said.

I had a discussion with a Commissioner before the task force was created and said that if Knife River puts forth a good offer they should take it. The Fairgrounds are crumbling and Knife River needs aggregate to keep Sioux Falls growing, but there are some legal issues;

Commissioner Jean Bender, who is an attorney, said the county does not have a clear legal path to sell the property.

“That land was a gift to the county, and that gift is very tightly constrained, and the risk is if we sell that property that that property would go back to the heirs, and the county would get nothing,” she said. “So there are very significant legal impediments, which is why it hasn’t been done in the past.”

I actually think the county could overcome those hurdles, and they really should;

“If you ever want to bankrupt somebody, give them a white elephant,” Commissioner Dean Karsky said. “We have something we have to take care of, but we have no revenue source to do that.”

I have suggested that after a successful sale, the county could relocate the fair to a smaller community in the county like Dell Rapids, Brandon, Hartford, etc. The new fairgrounds could start with tent rentals and really doesn’t need a grandstand. We have plenty of entertainment options in Sioux Falls, we don’t need another concert facility. If they put the $65 million in an endowment to fund the fair moving forward, it could work well.

I hope the commission doesn’t sit on their hands and explores other options.

6 Thoughts on “Take the Money and Run!

  1. D@ily Spin on July 5, 2022 at 4:42 pm said:

    How about a 99 year lease restricted to surface improvement. Another deep sheer face quarry is unacceptable.

  2. Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on July 5, 2022 at 10:38 pm said:

    Those are some hallowed grounds there. Pigs have won blue ribbons there. Jeff Gordon once raced there in what is now a parking lot. Think of all who have performed at that grandstand. Like Britney. Can a historic village be moved without a McKennan stench? Many of corndogs have been consumed there as well. Does Sioux Falls really need a new hole? Will they let me dump my leaves into this new hole? Does Sioux Falls really need more aggregate? Why not just recycle the Bunker Ramp? A city of riots does not need more rocks. Where will car dealerships now take their cars? (Right now, the Younker’s parking lot looks a little overstated.). A urban tractor-pull contest is culture, while a rural one is nothing but a by-product of a drinking binge. Isn’t anything sacred anymore? Imagine if some tried to move the Turner County Fair. There would be hell to pay. If a county fair can be moved, then what stops all of Hooterville from being moved “Someday”?

  3. "Woodstock" on July 5, 2022 at 10:40 pm said:

    “Say, maybe there’s a bunch of aggregate under Taupeville”…. “Are you guys thinking what I am thinking?”….

  4. Blasphemo on July 6, 2022 at 10:59 am said:

    All the recent downtown cultural amenities of Artwalk, Levitt, Pavilion, State Theater et al notwithstanding. . . Sioux Falls will forever be doomed to a hayseed town first impression for visitors if ugly & dusty sand/gravel quarrying continues right at the western gateway to the city.

  5. Mike Lee Zitterich on July 6, 2022 at 3:20 pm said:

    The offer is pointless, they made the offer to the wrong group of people. The County can move the Fairgrounds to another location they wish. But, it does NOT change the fact that the Lyon Family “owns” the land free and clear. They have “patent” rights to the land, the land does NOT fall within Jurisdiction of the State, the State does NOT and has never collected property tax on the l and due to it being exempt, and the $65,000,000 million offer is peanuts compared to the real monetary value of the land. The Family knows it has a gold mind, despite some in the community who claim the land is only worth $6.9 Million, its the “value” of the mineral deposits that gives the land itself much more value. The Fact that the company was ‘denied” the right to assess and review what is exactly under the surface should tell you right there, the FAMILY is NOT interested in giving up its full vested interest to the land claim.

    Honestly, if Knife River really wants the land that bad, it should enter into an “land-lease agreement” with the Lyon Family to “Rent” the land every month for the next 100 years, promising them no less than 40% of the profits from the ‘sale’ of the mineral deposits, but then as per the 1841 Preemptive Act – the Federal Govt also has the right to collect a 20% Tariff on the profits, so that may come into the equation as well. How much is Knife River really willing to pay for land?

  6. anominous on July 8, 2022 at 12:17 am said:

    dint someone say we could get a lake out of the old quarry hole, i think it’s time to get that fact done first before everyone goes bellyacheing about this new quarry hole, also they should get to put stuff like cars and friges at the bottom instead of haveing to pay for them just to go to the dump

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