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August 30, 2012 05:59 PM

Events Center More Than A Decade In The Making

Sioux Falls, SD

The idea of building a new events center in Sioux Falls is far from new. It's been tossed around for more than a decade.

In 2000, Sioux Falls hired a consulting firm to study the idea of an events center. The recommendation at that time was to start planning for a new facility, but it wasn't until 2003 when the city began taking the project seriously.

Just as Sioux City was starting to put the finishing touches on its brand new Tyson Events Center in late 2003, then Sioux Falls Mayor Dave Munson wanted to start looking at a downtown events center.

"If you go look at communities in the U.S., one thing you will see is them taking convention centers and arenas downtown so you can build off them with public and private partners," Munson said on November 30, 2003.

After touring the Tyson Events Center, Munson put together a 20-member task force to study a new facility. More than a year later, the task force recommended building a $79 million downtown facility.

With no financing plan, the idea died.

Then in 2008, Sioux Falls business leaders Kelby Krabbenhoft and Dana Dykhouse presented a plan for a so-called Coliseum as part of a plan that would have torn down Howard Wood Field.

Munson then appointed a second events center task force in 2008, including Howard Wood's granddaughter.

"And frankly, the public needs to know that we're here to listen and figure out what we need.  We're not here to tell them what to do; we're here trying to figure it out for ourselves," Howard Wood's granddaughter Jean Fuller said in May 2008.

Eighteen months later, the task force proposed a facility at the arena and convention center site paid for by a temporary one-penny sales tax that needed legislative approval.

The legislature killed that idea and the plans for an events center remained unclear.

When current mayor Mike Huether took over in 2010, he unveiled plans for a $100 million, 12,000 seat facility in the fall of 2010.

"The majority of the people in Sioux Falls want a new event center and I believe strongly a majority of the city council wants a new events center built," Huether said in September 2010.

For the next year, the city debated the location and the financing.  In November 2011, voters in Sioux Falls went to the polls to vote on a plan to finance the entire $115 million plan.

Voters approved the project ending an eight-year-old debate.

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