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Sports Authority Looks At Events Center Plan

October 5, 2010, 5:52 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

Sports Authority Looks At Events Center Plan
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Now that we have a better idea of what Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether has envisioned for a new events center, groups waiting for the plan to be released are taking a closer look to decide whether it will work for the city.

At least one group wants it built as quickly as possible, but there's one caveat.

The Sioux Falls Sports Authority came together in 2006. One year later, it announced the Summit League Basketball Tournament was coming to Sioux Falls.  While that's one success for authority organizers, they say the lack of a modern events center in town has prevented them from being more successful, and that's why they fully support the Mayor's plan.

The addition of the Summit League tournament to the South Dakota sports scene is a victory for the Sioux Falls Sports Authority. The tournament's 2009 move to the Sioux Falls Arena immediately generated record tournament ticket sales, and for the Sports Authority, it proved the city can host large-scale events.

"I think the word is out now; we can do major events. We've done the Summit League, we've done some other things here in Sioux Falls that people know we can do it. So they're not too worried about can they really handle it," Executive Director for the Sioux Falls Sports Authority Mike Sullivan said. 

Sullivan says while that's good for Sioux Falls, major organizations have also heard about the Arena's limitations.

Sullivan says he has a long list of tournaments and events that have considered Sioux Falls as their site. But when it comes down to it, the current Arena just doesn't fit their events.

That's why the Sports Authority supports Mayor Mike Huether's new vision of an events center.

"Obviously in favor of an arena and we're in favor of getting it done in the most timely fashion as humanly possible, which we think probably right now, the mayor's plan is the most timely fashion," Sullivan said.

The Sports Authority's goal is to recruit major events to Sioux Falls. One of which could be the first and second round games of the NCAA basketball tournament.

"You're guaranteed national television.  You're guaranteed that your city becomes a focus point of sports on those two days that you have it. It would be tremendous; it would be the best sporting event that South Dakota has ever had," Sullivan said.

But there's a catch. To secure those games, the venue needs to have 12,000 sellable seats. But because the NCAA would take up seats for bands, officials and teams for their off times, Sullivan estimates the center would actually need 13,000 to 15,000 seats to legitimately have a shot at securing the tournament.

"So they take up a lot of space and if you go in with a 12,000 seat building, they take out those seats for the tournament, you then only have 11,000 or 10,500, whatever that number happens to be, and you're not eligible," Sullivan said. 

That would leave the authority fighting an uphill battle, which is no different than their struggles with the aging Arena.

Sullivan says the city's airport and hotel situation can also be a deterrent when trying to attract an event. However, he believes with a new events center, potential organizations would overlook those shortcomings.

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