To build it or not to build it? A new Sioux Falls events center is a $100-million decision. But before voters can have a say, a location must also be picked, and the debate between two possible locations is heating up.
It started as a modest Facebook group, but now the group known as "Build It Downtown" is an organization 1,800 people strong.
They're pleading to city officials to give their idea of building a new events center in the heart of a city a chance.
History and the Big Sioux River both run deep through downtown Sioux Falls. It’s an area the "Build It Downtown" group says is a perfect fit for a new events center. But they're worried plans are being pushed through to build the complex near the Sioux Falls Arena.
"There are a lot of questions that need to be answered over the course of the next few days and few weeks," Steve Hildebrand said.
Hildebrand is one of the leaders behind the group, which last month sent a letter to city leaders. In it, he asked for a study to compare the economic impact of building a downtown facility versus an arena-area location.
Hildebrand has yet to hear back from anyone promising that will happen soon, which makes him afraid that if it is done, it will be too late.
"We have a lot of questions that the mayor needs to answer and hopefully answer pretty soon because the train is leaving the station," Hildebrand said.
Hildebrand says there's even ample space for a new events center in downtown Sioux Falls and that's a reason why the group is gaining so much momentum.
"No one has Falls Park and the beautiful falls that we have and we should highlight it and showcase it to more people across the country," Hildebrand said.
But above all else, Hildebrand says the downtown plan needs to get a fair shake, and the side-by-side economic comparison needs to be done and soon. That's why he hopes to give the council a resolution Monday night that would wrap up the study by mid-January.
"If this is all just rigged and we're building it at the arena, there's a lot of us who can't support that. We want real facts and real information and a real process to make this decision," Hildebrand said.
The city does plan a study similar to the one the downtown group is proposing. However, the city plans to do that study after initial designs are drafted for the facility at the arena location.