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Downtown Events Center Group Rallies Supporters

September 21, 2010, 9:24 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Downtown Events Center Group Rallies Supporters
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether has been given the money to draw up plans for a new events center. The question now is, where will it be built? So, far all the plans have pointed to the current site of the Sioux Falls Arena. But, a facebook group that wants it downtown has nearly 700 members and Tuesday night they started a formal push to put the events center in the center of the city. 

"We want to use facebook as a tool, but not to be the identity," group organizer Brendan Reilly told the crowd gathered at the downtown Holiday Inn Tuesday night.

The group is now coming face-to-face with its supporters. Tuesday night that goup of supporters included downtown developers, business owners, and even a city council member.

"We're not against the progress here. We're not trying to stop the arena site. We're just simply trying to raise the issue and raise awareness for the downtown site. Let's not forget about downtown," Jesse Smith, who is also helping organize the effort said. 

The group is trying to form a formal committee to let Mayor Mike Huether know Sioux Falls residents support an events center downtown.

"He said he's looking to develop the arena site, hopefully this group can change those plans a bit," Reilly said.

But, not everyone in the crowd fully supported the movement. Gary Weckwerth owns the Sioux Falls Stampede hockey team that would play in the new events center. Weckwerth doesn't care where the events center is built, he just wants a new facility, and he hopes the group doesn't divide voters on the issue.

"I'm just concerned about let's work toward getting it built, and wherever it's going to end up it's going to be a good thing. Sioux Falls is not that big," Weckwerth said.

But, the group says the city needs to build on the revitalization that has happened in downtown over the last decade and build the events center downtown. 

"There's been significant investments downtown. You look at the Cherapa building, Phillips to the Falls, even the greenway project for the Big Sioux River, those are significant investments and we should take advantage of those investments and not let those returns fall by the wayside," Smith said.

And organizers hope their group can help do that.

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