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USA Today Founder's Stint At Sid's

March 21, 2014, 5:55 PM by Perry Groten

USA Today Founder's Stint At Sid's

The closing of Sid's Crown Liquor not only spells the end of a longtime downtown business, it also closes the chapter on its historical ties to a short-lived newspaper that launched the career of a South Dakota media mogul.

Six decades ago, typewriter ink flowed next to the bottles and cans on sale at Sid's Crown Liquor. In 1952, owner Sid Epstein rented space at his building to a young journalist who started the first statewide weekly paper focusing on South Dakota sports. That ambitious journalist was Al Neuharth.

"I covered more high school than I did college, because we were trying to aim at teenage kids in school," Neuharth said in 2012.

Neuharth would go on to publish the national newspaper USA Today. He returned to Sioux Falls in 2012 for the dedication of a plaque honoring SoDak Sports and its humble beginning at Sid's.

"I bet nobody knew at the time what heights Al Neuharth would have climbed to after that start," Sid's Crown Liquor President Paul Damyan said.

Sid's is also listed on the National Historic Register. A tribute to the building's unique architecture and it's significance to downtown Sioux Falls.

"Sid had a good run.  He started real small and ended up being a big business," Damyan said.

Which is more than you can say for SoDak Sports.  The paper folded in 1954. Sixty years later, Sid's is in the process of closing down. Two businesses linked by sports and spirits-- and history.

"If he knew Al Neuharth was going to make as much money as he did, maybe he would have charged him more rent or something," Damyan said.

Neuharth's sports office was replaced by a barber shop. Sid's historic registry designation means a new owner cannot make any major structural overhauls to the building, only minor cosmetic changes.

Neuharth's sports office was replaced by a barber shop. 

Sid's historic registry designation means a new owner cannot make any major structural overhauls to the building, only minor cosmetic changes.

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