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Entertaining The Options

February 2, 2004, 9:50 PM by Jolene Loetscher

Allen Jackson, Aerosmith, and the Eagles -- they are big names that bring in big money for Sioux City, Iowa. The town is attracting ticket sales and shows with its new events center that opened just a month ago. So with added entertainment competition just 70 miles south, what does this mean for Sioux Falls and its current arena?

An excited crowded, energizing game and enthusiasm for a dream that's become reality -- that's been Sioux City, Iowa's goal for the last two years.

Sioux Falls Mayor Dave Munson says, "When you look at that 29, there's a lot more happening."

This is the latest happening, the 10,000 seat Tyson events center that opened in mid-December, attached to the old auditorium.

Munson says, "It really shows what this brings to a community and it uplifts a community."

That's what Mayor Munson wants to see for Sioux Falls, so he's touring Sioux City's main attraction with another Dave, Mayor Dave Ferris.

Ferris says, "During our construction we went to other facilities and learned a lot and I would only welcome them to come down here and better their facility off of ours."

Dennis Gann, Sioux City Tourism & Convention Center, says, "We did the concourse, the suites in a way that allowed you to interact with suite holders."

Munson says, "It makes you feel intimate."

To make the building feel comfy, they made sure all the seats included padding.

Gann says, "We want people to be comfortable for an hour and a half."

People will pay $65-70 to sit in each of these seats and watch Allen Jackson sing this months and in May Aerosmith will perform. The size allows the city to bring in and sell out big shows. But 90-percent of the activities, like arena football and hockey, go for just $7-8.

Gann says, "We're making it affordable for the people."

The events center became affordable because the state of Iowa gave $21 million to the city.

Ferris says, "We didn't build it with property tax dollars which could be a negative for you guys."

But they also partnered with private businesses, selling the rights to signs and suites so the whole building will be paid for in nine years. There's a waiting list for companies who want to lease these rooms for $25,000/year. It's also an added attraction for downtown.

Munson says, "When you put this down here, it does help the public-private partnership to make a city, the downtown becomes the part you have to reinvest in."

Ferris says, "Your mayor well understands that you need a facility like this to compete on the interstate market."

Munson says, "It puts more pressure on the current arena that we're not going to get the events, that's less revenue that we're not generating."

Even with the extra pressure, Munson says it will take time for Sioux Falls to put any plans in motion.

Munson says, "From right now where we sit in Sioux Falls, it's 2006-2007 when we're going to have the financial resources available to start putting the brick and mortar together if the people choose to go that way."

It’s a direction that's driving business to Sioux City.

Munson says, "That's how you make a city work, you do what you're doing."

This isn't the only entertainment expansion for Sioux City's downtown. In 2001, it reopened a renovated Orpheum theater that is used for plays and small performances.

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