Sioux Falls voters want an events center, and they want it built by the current Sioux Falls Arena.
Those are the results we found in our exclusive KELOLAND-TV/Argus Leader poll of 400 registered Sioux Falls voters.
Fifty-seven percent of voters said they would support a new events center, a third of the voters were against the idea, and ten percent are still undecided. But, a majority of those who want a new events center, say they want it built at the arena, not downtown.
According to our poll 15 percent of the voters who want an events center want it downtown. The majority, 57 percent want it at the current arena site. Twenty-four percent want it somewhere else, and four percent aren't sure.
"No surprise. None," Mayor Mike Huether said when he heard the results. "That is what we've been trying to relay to the citizens here in Sioux Falls, and it's what we've been trying to relay to the downtown group."
Huether has proposed putting the new events center at the current arena site because he says the infrastructure is already in place, and it will add to the buildings that are currently there.
"It makes sense. It's the prudent thing to do. It's the responsible thing to do. And, it's the palatable thing to do," Huether said.
But, the 'Build It Downtown' group isn't discouraged by the results. They say it's more about educating the public about why a downtown location is the best spot for an events center.
"We're looking right now at a public education program to make sure people do understand that downtown has more parking, downtown has better in and out access, that downtown is pedestrian friendly, that downtown is close to the interstates," 'Build It Downtown' organizer Steve Hildebrand said.
Hildebrand says if the events center is built downtown it will be better for economic development.
"What we need to do is build it in a location that's going to spur the most economic development, so that there's more taxable property, there's more sales tax revenues that go along with it," Hildebrand said.
And he says that's important to keep in mind because the city will be spending tax dollars to build the facility.
"The events are great, and we'll all go to them, but the bottom line is when you spend $100 million in taxpayer money we should do it to make sure we're spurring economic development," Hildebrand said.
But, the mayor isn't buying it.
"You take advantage of the infrastructure, the roads, the interstate highways, and things like that. It just makes good common sense, and ultimately it's the right thing to do for this city," Huether said.
But, with this issue likely heading to the ballot sometime next year, voters will ultimately settle the debate over our poll at their own polling place.
The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research. It has a margin of error of plus or minus five percent.