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Questions Surround Events Center Study

April 25, 2011, 9:48 PM by David Brown

Questions Surround Events Center Study
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The results are in: The Arena and Convention Center site is the preferred location for a new Sioux Falls Events Center.

A consulting firm hired by the city made that recommendation Monday after studying the arena site and downtown location by Cherapa Place for the past two months.

Using a 12-point Site Evaluation Criteria that assigns weight to different factors, the Arena and Convention Center site scored 85 out of a possible 100 points, while Cherapa Place scored just 75. And these results are stirring even more debate.

From Carnegie Hall to the Orpheum Theater, there were plenty of questions and plenty of skeptics regarding the results of the events center economic analysis.

"I'm kind of surprised by the conclusion overall," Sioux Falls resident Dave Syverson said. "I think the economic report that they've put forward is based on a couple of assumptions."

Syverson says the biggest problem he had with the results was parking, which the study concluded would be a major problem at Cherapa Place.

"I guess we'll just have to let the information kind of settle in, digest it and see kind of how the debate moves forward from here," Syverson said.

 "I think there's reason to question some of them depending on which side of the fence you're on," Sioux Falls resident Joe Sefrna said. "The numbers are overwhelming."

Sefrna owns a business near the Arena and actually supports the study's findings. But even he questions whether the analysis is on solid ground.

"I think some of the numbers they were throwing out there were interesting," Sefrna said. "How did they come up with them? But obviously I favor it."

Perhaps the biggest point of contention, however, was flat-floor space. The study shows more than 30 flat-floor events would occur at the Arena site every year with just seven downtown.

"What they're weighing is an Events Center and conventions, where the numbers for downtown are only showing events," Brendan Reilly of Build It Downtown said. "Even if the Events Center isn't built, we're still going to have conventions. So, that number gets lost in the shuffle."

Reilly says the comparison simply wasn't apples-to-apples. He believes raw numbers on the actual benefit to Sioux Falls are still needed. 

"In my humble opinion, if you're making a 50-year investment, I don't know if we want to hinge our 50-year investment on conventions," Reilly said. "I would much rather hinge it on economic development of the site and around it."

The next step is for Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether to make a site recommendation to the City Council. That will happen one week from today on May 2nd.

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