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February 16, 2003 09:45 PM

Entertaining The Options

Click here to watch this story(Windows Media) Sioux City, Iowa's vision for the future is a 10,100 seat arena being added on to the city's existing auditorium. Dennis Gann, Sioux City Convention Center/Auditorium director, says, "We were at the end of our rope in the old arena." The old building needed more than $10 million in renovations just to be maintained. So three years ago when the state of Iowa began giving away grants, using money from riverboat gambling revenues, Sioux City applied. Now the vision is becoming reality. Gann says, "It was time to reinvest." The new Tyson/IBP Events Center is the star of Sioux City's $70 million dollar plan that also includes a transportation center and river front center. The state chipped in $21 million and businesses gave another $18 million. Gann says, "To put up a $51 million dollar arena in today's economy, with voter mood, to pass a bond issue, it would've been multiple years out." In January 2004 the new events center will open with the remodeled auditorium also being used for smaller shows and family activities. The city's also expanding its entertainment venues with a smaller theater, the Orpheum. Dave Bernstein, helped with Orpheum restoration, says, "They don't overlap as much as they complement each other." After several years of renovating the Orpheum, today it's used for symphonies and shows like Sheryl Crowe. In the 15 months it's been finished, it's done more than $3 million in ticket sales. Bernstein says, "For markets the size of Sioux City, Sioux Falls, the 2,000, 2,500 seat venues are critical because there's a lot of shows that don't make sense for the larger venues." Bernstein says a lot of the people who fill these seats come from hours away. Bernstein says, "For certain shows, we do see people coming from Sioux Falls, and that's always been the case." But, what helps Sioux City could be hurting Sioux Falls. Dave Munson, Sioux Falls mayor, says, "When you look at entertainment and the size of our arena here, you can get 6,000 people in, it's pretty easy to bypass and send them down the road." Munson says with facilities like the one in Sioux City also going up Fargo, Omaha, and Council Bluffs, the need for something new in Sioux Falls is increasing. But getting something done is a matter of time and money. Munson says, "The way the state is, we're not going to get money from the state." Instead Munson says the city will need to look at asking for help from the public, possibly with a bond. Munson says, "We're looking at it, as early as we could get something with funding would be '06 or '07." For now, Munson says keeping the current arena is key. Munson says, "The facility is good, but seating-wise, Sioux Falls has outgrown the arena." With big names costing big money, 6,000 seats isn't enough to keep ticket prices reasonable. It's a formula Sioux City's figured out. Gann says, "Now you can do a $100,000 act divided by 10,000 seats. That certainly drives your ticket price down." Munson hopes a new arena would seat at least 12-thousand and stand-alone with room to grown. It's just one option Sioux Falls must entertain as new event centers go up along the borders of KELOLAND. Munson says, "To stay competitive, it does force you to work and work hard."

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