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Events Center Plan Factors Future Growth

October 4, 2010, 9:20 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Events Center Plan Factors Future Growth
SIOUX FALLS, SD - It would be big enough to host a NCAA Division I basketball tournament, and cost just under $100 million to build. Monday, Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether unveiled his vision for a new events center.

He wants the facility to be built next to the existing arena and convention center. It's a decision that comes with some scrutiny, because one organized group wants the facility downtown.

But, the mayor says the current arena and convention center site is perfect because the infrastructure is already in place and it would allow for several events to happen at once.

An empty parking lot at the end of the Sioux Falls Convention Center is where Huether would like to see a new events center. City officials say the big advantage the site holds over downtown is the city already owns the land.

"We know we don't own any land currently within the downtown that we can utilize. If we do acquire a site it could require demolition of buildings," Sioux Falls City Planner Mike Cooper said.

Building the events center at the current convention center site would also expand the space for bigger conventions, and there could be several events held at the same time.

"Limiting a downtown site to just a free standing events center it would not expand the flat floor space for conventions that we would have by doing it at the arena/convention center site," Cooper said.

Huether's plan also shows the potential for the arena/convention center site.

Just south of the site city planners have identified an area where a pedestrian mall could be developed. To the north, the city has penciled in a skyway from the Ramada Inn across the street and blocked off an area near Russell Street for more commercial redevelopment.

The city also likes the area because its close to the interstate and it would be easy to get to events. 

"We know we don't have good proximity to an interstate highway system within the downtown, like other larger metropolitan areas do," Cooper said.

It's a plan that shows the potential for the arena and convention center site, and a plan the city hopes can spur progress in the area.

The plan would also convert six baseball fields at nearby McCart Park into one thousand parking spots. That would leave five baseball fields at the park, with the rest being relocated somewhere else in the city.

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