Entries Tagged 'Levitt Pavilion' ↓

Is the Levitt banking on a parking ramp at Sioux Steel site?

Someone forwarded this email to me today that was apparently sent to the city council last week AFTER the Levitt’s director gave a presentation to the city council at last Tuesday’s informational;

First Name


Last Name



Parking for Levitt at the Falls


Dear Council Members, During my presentation to the council on Tuesday, Councilor Stehly asked if I felt the 2700 identified free parking spaces were adequate for our expected attendance at Levitt at the Falls. As parking has been the primary concern I have heard from residents, I was hesitant to go too far in answering Ms Stehly in such a public forum. However, I am following up to voice my concern. This summer we are hosting 30 concerts, with an average expected attendance of 1500-3000 people per concert. I am concerned that parking will be an issue and see additional challenges as we grow to 50 concerts each summer beginning in the spring of 2020. I am working closely with Lloyd Companies and am delighted to know that they hope to add a parking facility within their new Sioux Steel Development. I hope that you will do what you can to lend your support to this much-needed facility to make our downtown more easily accessible to all. Thank you for your service to our community!

My first concern is that a director of a local non-profit that receives a ton of public funds doesn’t see the need to share this information at a public meeting, well at least she found it necessary to share it with them in an email.

Secondly, I don’t see 1,500-3000 people at these events. I wish it were true, but my guess is it will be closer to 300-500 people until people get a feel for what kind of concerts these are. I also don’t understand the cries for parking. There is plenty of parking, and I also think people can use resources like Lyft/Uber, the Trolley to shuttle them from central downtown or even better ride your bike or walk. Ironically, as someone pointed out to me the other day, the Walker parking study indicated that the best place to build a new parking ramp wasn’t at the current controversial site but in the spot just South of the Levitt where Raven is tearing down an old building. What a concept!

Lastly, I’m annoyed that the Sioux Steel development is using a Non-Profit to leverage for a TIF to build a parking ramp. I can hear the arguments already if the expected 3,000 a night don’t show, “People said they would come, but couldn’t find any parking.” Oh, poppycock. Isn’t it amazing that 40-50,000 people show up for parades downtown like Parade of Lights and St. Patty’s or the Sidewalk Arts Festival and find plenty of parking, but now all of sudden we can’t find parking for a couple thousand?

The fix is in folks.

This disappoints me even more since I am supportive of the Levitt and am excited about the first year’s lineup. Now I hear they are being used as a pawn in a multi-million dollar corporate welfare tax scheme. Doesn’t anyone in this town fight fair anymore?

Levitt Announces 2019 Concert Series

I still have to do some more research on the bands, but some really stand out (I bolded the bands I have either seen or heard before). Jonathan Byrd is fantastic. I’m really excited about the series and will try to attend most of the concerts. This is a very good thing for Sioux Falls. Hopefully in 2020 we can BYOB. As I have told councilors it is just a matter of changing city ordinance to allow BYOB at Falls Park West (which really isn’t a part of Falls Park, though they keep claiming it is).

UPDATE: I started linking some YT vids of the bands. Lots of great stuff and it’s all FREE!

Americana Series

Sponsored by CorTrust Bank

Rock Series

Sponsored by First PREMIER Bank

Women of Song Series 

Sponsored by Avera

World Music Series

Sponsored by MetaBank

The Family Series 

Sponsored by an anonymous donor supporting Therapy Dogs International

UPDATE: The Real Reason Levitt won’t allow BYOB? Greed & Elitism.

So now the truth comes out as to why the Levitt won’t allow you to bring your own beer to shows, GREED & Consumption control;

“And once their wristband is empty, they won’t be able to get any more,” Slattery said. “We’re establishing a pricing model that’s going to be affordable, but it’s also going to exercise a system of portion control. It’s one of the biggest concerns people have is people drinking too much and things getting out of control. We’re beverage-service professionals, and we can monitor and maintain a level of professionalism about the adult-beverage service.”

So in other words the best way to keep lower income people from attending these events is to 1) not allow them to bring their own alcohol and 2) limit the consumption. Like there is consumption control at German Fest or Hot Harley Farts 🙂

JJ’s also will share profits from beverage sales with the Levitt nonprofit.

So instead of just contracting with a bar manager for labor costs at a flat fee so Levitt can retain most of the profits, it seems JJ’s will be doing quite well also from this arrangement. Another reason we can’t allow people to bring their own beer, it would mess up their sales. It’s always about the businesses and not the patrons.

I knew all along the Falls Park alcohol ban was a BS argument since they allow drinking in that area with special licenses. It would be a simple ordinance change to allow people to BYOB. You just designate an area and require wrist bans. But as usual the snobs and yuppies have to ruin it for us grunts because someone has to make money.

I tell you what, if I have to go thru some kind of security to watch a free concert in a public park, there will be Hell to pay. It looks like the Levitt will be turning out to be like the Denty, we all have to pay to maintain it,  but some of us are not good enough to use it unless we pony up more money. At least they used bricks on the exterior, one less thing we have to fix in a couple of years.

UPDATE: According to the SF Parks Board Agenda today, Lloyd Companies will be sponsoring the ‘GRASS’ at Levitt for $10K a year over 5 years. I wish I had a ‘GRASS’ sponsor in High School, but that is another story . . .

They are going to put a nifty cement pad in the middle of the park. If we keep getting donations at this rate at Levitt, we should rename it ‘Sponsorship Park’. We could get every Tom, Dick and Harry in Sioux Falls to put up a sign, banner or cement pad. So cool.

Sioux Falls City Council meeting highlights

Besides the fact that two housing proposals got approved that have serious drainage issues, there were some other highlights.

The SFFD got their contract renewal with a caveat that if a firefighter is ALS (Advanced Life Support) trained and may have to use those skills they get an extra $1 an hour. While I don’t have an issue with that, it goes back to my argument that we continue to subsidize the private ambulance service more and more. We might as well be researching a public option.

During public input, John Cunningham brought up the fact that Noem should reimburse the city for police security during her VERY private event featuring President Trump. I came up shortly after him and agreed. Trump’s NON public event cost SF taxpayers $29K.

I also talked about the Levitt’s decision to NOT allow people to bring their own beer to the FREE concerts that are subsidized by the taxpayers. The Levitt said they will allow people to bring coolers with their own food and pop but NOT beer. They are putting out an RFP to find a beer and wine vendor for concerts as well as providing food trucks (which I think is fine) but they should also allow people to bring their own beer. I even suggested that even if you bring your own you will need to get an ID bracelet proving you are old enough to drink.

My bigger issue with this is that the Levitt and the Parks department made this decision without public or council input. I have been asking about it for over a year and been getting the runaround. Now I know why.

Some of the other Levitt’s across the country ALLOW concert goers to bring their own beer. Isn’t that the whole point of having a free community concert so you are not required to purchase something at the event? In Sioux Falls, we always have to try to get people coming or going. I think this should be a public decision, not a decision that is made behind closed doors.

Out of the 7 currently operating, 4 allow BYOB and sell on site, 3 Sell Alcohol on site, but NO outside alcohol and LA bans alcohol all together in the park.


Arlington, TX – Allows own Alcohol, no glass

Memphis, TN – Allows own Alcohol, no glass

Dayton, OH – Allows own Alcohol, no glass

Westport, CN – Allows own Alcohol, no glass

Denver, CO – Allows NO outside Alcohol but can purchase on site

Bethlehem, PA – Allows NO outside Alcohol but can purchase on site

Los Angeles, CA – NO ALCOHOL

What is going on at the Levitt shell construction site?

A South DaCola foot soldier told me last night that they have access to the 4th floor patios of the Phillips Lofts facing east, which overlooks the construction grounds of the Levitt. They said recently there has been some curious drainage of the grounds and ‘oily like’ substances being drained from the property.

I have NO idea what this would be.

I do know that the main reason why NO development has happened on the East side of Phillips to the Falls is because of the years of contamination on that land, and that in order to even use it as a park they had to cover some of the contaminated earth. I almost wonder if they are doing more extensive cleanup?

Former Mayoral Candidate’s wife to run Levitt

Remember Bruce Halverson? He decided to run for mayor in 2006 when incumbent Dave Munson dropped out of the race because he violated city charter by approving a 100% cost overrun on Phillips to the Falls without council approval. Than when the city council chickened out and didn’t file charges against Munson, he decided to run for re-election. The Halverson camp WAS NOT happy about the switcheroo.

So when the Halversons left about a decade ago, it was no surprise after being burned.

Bruce’s wife, Nancy now will run the Levitt. Nancy Halverson had a great reputation before leaving Sioux Falls in support of the local arts scene. I think she will do a great job, just try to keep Bruce out of local politics, it has gotten much worse over the past 10 years.

RIBFEST calls it quits, are other festivals next?

Looks like $10 for 3 bones festival is over;

“The entertainment landscape has continued to expand over recent years with the opening of Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, The District and soon to be Levitt Shell,” Torkildson said. “SMG is refocusing its resources and efforts to managing and producing events in the venues it manages in Sioux Falls.”

I find it interesting that they would cancel this event right after getting a new contract to help manage Canaries Stadium. Makes you wonder what revenues are really like for SMG in Sioux Falls, or what they are seeing for projections.

I have been hearing rumors over the past couple of months that both CityFest (used to be LifeLight) and JazzFest may be on the chopping blocks also. I haven’t had anyone confirm that yet with me, but I do know that LifeLight as an organization has been liquidating some assets and Rob Joyce is retiring from the Jazz and Blues Society.

While I could give two-sh*ts about Ribfest or LifeLight, killing JazzFest would be very detrimental to summer entertainment. Even if they have to just scale back for a couple of years to one day, I think that would be better than trying to bring it back later. Obviously there is going to be a shift to have more outdoor festivals downtown at the Levitt, which is awesome, but Yankton Trails was a perfect venue for JazzFest. I was told at one time that JazzFest attendees are around 40% out of town (not sure what last year’s numbers were) but many stay for the entire event at local hotels and campgrounds. The economic impact of JF is pretty big when you consider all the city has to do is provide a city park for about a week they we already pay to maintain anyway.

Let’s hope for the best!

Did you Hear? The Levitt will bring in 50 free concerts a year!

Well, if you were at the Levitt presentation last night for YPN (Young Professionals Network – Chamber) you would have had to be deaf not to know about the 50 concerts.

It was mentioned about a dozen times in the intro video, and afterwards the speakers kept bringing it up.

Trust me, I think this is fantastic, if it was realistic. Remember, that is 3-4 concerts per week, and unless those concerts are going to be on weeknights, they will conflict with a ton of other live music and other events outdoors downtown in the summer. Five to seven years ago, I would have said no way, but if you look at the calendar of events this summer for DT, you would be hard pressed not to find something going on both Friday and Saturday.

One person in attendance asked the question and the response was, “We promised we wouldn’t interfere with JazzFest and the Pavilion.” Uh, okay. What about all the other DT events and private promoters in the city? I take real issue with using my tax dollars to compete with private business.

Besides the 50 (professional) concerts a year dream/scheme, I just don’t buy we are going to be getting all of this for FREE. The city will have to kick in a butt-load of money. So why not just build the amphitheater and use if for the city without the ties to Levitt? Not only could we save money, we might even break even on the grounds with rental fees?

There is also the fact they are peddling we will be able to bring our own coolers (with beer in them). I’ll believe it when I see it. Like many things in life folks, nothing is for free.

Let’s face it, as I mentioned last night at the event, we don’t have many choices with the brownfield. Funny part is when I asked the presenters (very nicely) to explain what a brownfield was and why we are using it for an amphitheater the speaker said this, “Uh, that’s more of city question, they know more about it, I know there is 6″ of clay, uh, but we get 50 free concerts . . .” he never really explained it to the crowd. I wasn’t trying to get anyone into trouble, I just wanted the crowd to understand why this location was being used. But I guess you are not supposed to bring those things up at a fundraiser.

Do we really know the true expense of the Levitt Pavilion? (H/T-WP)

Thanks for Warren for finding this article from 2015 outlining what the Levitt Foundation will contribute to a project in Dayton;

Levitt would contribute 10 percent of the construction costs, or up to $500,000, followed by half the operating costs the first year. The annual contribution would decline thereafter. It’s hoped the pavilion could open as soon as July 2017.

Operating a Levitt pavilion costs about $500,000 annually. The foundation provides $500,000 in seed funding for construction and capital expenses and support resources. The foundation said it provides $1 million in the first five years of the pavilion’s operation.

After that, the foundation will provide about $150,000 annually in ongoing operational support to a nonprofit group formed to oversee the venue.

This is what has often puzzled me about the promises of the Levitt Foundation. Fifty Free ‘Professional’ concerts within basically a 4 month time period. Forget about the time frame in how you are going to get that many acts packed into that time frame, or that you are going to get 50 ‘professional’ acts to come to Sioux Falls to play, for a moment, let’s pretend that is achievable.

The bigger question is how is this going to be paid for? Remember, these are free concerts, similar to JazzFest. While I have a rough idea what JazzFest costs to put on, you have to remember, besides sponsors, advertisers, vendors, and the city chipping in services, the majority of the event if paid for by beer sales. Will Levitt have adult beverage sales at concerts? Will vendors have to pay a fee to sell their goods? I just don’t know how we are going to be able to maintain such a high level of concerts at the Levitt without digging into the city budget and having a major subsidy each year.

Something the city council needs to chew on before going full boar on this.