Sioux Falls, SD
The city of Sioux Falls selected a construction manager for a new events center Thursday, but the debate's still going strong over where to build it.
The battle between the current Arena site and downtown isn't going away anytime soon. But a prominent sports consultant says the choice is clear.
Tom Savage is a Sioux Falls native who's spent his career working in sports consulting and public relations. And while he currently lives in Indianapolis and is not a part of any local group in town, he's confident he knows the answer to Sioux Falls' Event Center question.
"They need to build it downtown," Savage said. "I mean, if you build it out where the Arena is, it's a place to go see a concert or sports event. If you build it downtown, it's the place to go."
During his career, Savage has worked for a number of NBA teams, including the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers. In each case, he helped the teams build new arenas downtown.
"I've seen it happen in a lot of areas," Savage said. "I've traveled around in the NBA. I've been to every NBA arena and the downtown core buildings. It's just a very neat, revitalized area everywhere you go."
Savage understands Sioux Falls isn't a big NBA city. But he says economic growth will be big, regardless of a city's population.
"People sometimes say 'we're not Minneapolis, don't compare us to Minneapolis.' But, I don't see why we couldn't be," Savage said. "Certainly, we wouldn't have that many people living here, but just the downtown core, you build an events center like that and you'll see an amazing economic boom in that area."
And Savage believes downtown would not only provide a better bottom line, but a place that can reflect all that Sioux Falls has to offer.
"There's some very cool, neat architecture in this town," Savage said. "And I would love to see a building built downtown to incorporate the falls and some of the turn of the century architecture around here."
Laying the foundation for building the future.
Savage also worked for the Seattle SuperSonics, which tried to get a new arena built in a local suburb. He says a lack of overall support was one of the main reasons the team eventually moved to Oklahoma City in 2008.