SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — You won’t be ice skating at Falls Park until late 2023.

Changes, including a bigger ice ribbon and more environmental studies, have delayed the timeline for the proposed ice ribbon and all-inclusive playground at Jacobson Plaza at Falls Park. On Tuesday, city council members heard an update on the plan, which also includes a larger price tag of $5.5 million. 

Despite 20-25% increases in construction costs, initial donors Garry and Dianne Jacobson have committed to match funding from the City of Sioux Falls to complete the project, which now hopes to open in late 2023. If all the changes get approval, the new timeline has construction bids to be finalized by the end of the summer and construction to start this fall.  

City of Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Director Don Kearney noted to city council members construction at the Sioux Steel District will also be ongoing as well as updates to the River Greenway so the delay for the ice ribbon will help all projects be complete near the same time. 

Construction for the initial project was originally set to begin this spring, but city leaders have decided to make the ice ribbon bigger after researching other ice ribbons in downtown areas in cities like Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Spokane, Washington.

The planned ice ribbon is now expected to be 14,000 square feet, which would allow for 200 people with a maximum capacity of 260 people. You can view renderings of the ice ribbon below. The initial plan called for 12,000 square feet for the ice ribbon.

Kearney said the changes to plan are focused on making the ice ribbon a great experience for people using it. 

“That includes making sure that there are enough amenities and support facilities to really extend the stay and have lots more to do than just maybe skate the ribbon,” Kearney said. “You take in concessions, obviously explore around Falls Park west and the Jacobson plaza and just really take in the entire downtown experience.” 

Kearney said ideas for summer use of the space are being considered in the design phase. 

“One of the things that we saw when we looked at the other communities, they weren’t really using a lot in the summertime,” Kearney said. “They were having some opportunities for people to rollerblade and things like that. But we’re just thinking outside the box to think, can we use it for a miniature golf course? Can it be used for other types of activity where we can engage people during the summertime as well.”

Confluence designer Jon Jacobson, who is not related to the Jacobson family making the donation, said designers are looking at how parking and drop off connections would work as well as walking paths to the site. 

“We don’t want this to be a one-dimensional space,” Jon Jacobson said. “For example, this facility could be leased out in the summertime for a private event.”  

Jon Jacobson also told city council members many of the design layouts for the plaza are being dictated by the physical constraints of Falls Park. He noted a sewer main runs through the site and contaminants used to be stored on the site, which used to be a dumping ground. 

The city will be working with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources to continue to study environmental impacts on the project.

Food hall, inclusive playground 

Outside of the ice ribbon, the Jacobson Plaza will include an inclusive playground along with buildings for a warming house, food hall. In future phases, plans for a splash park and dog park could be added. 

The all-inclusive playground will be built with the needs for kids with a variety of different disabilities. Kearney said design crews studied various inclusive playgrounds and plan to incorporate some of the most popular ideas they found. 

“One of the things that we found was these, what are called mini zip lines, that are just like a playground-appropriate level of zipline,” Kearney said. 

The space for the inclusive playground is planned to be 26,750 square feet, which is much larger than the five playgrounds at Sertoma Park which totals 19,250 square feet.

Kearney said working with the Jacobson family in a private-public partnership has been a great experience. 

“They are so excited about seeing this happen,” Kearney said. “For them to come along with additional dollars to help us realize the dream we have for Jacobson Plaza at Falls Park is just incredible and we can’t thank them enough.” 

What’s next? 

Kearney said the first step will be to get an amended agreement signed in place with the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation which will oversee the money funding the project. Once the new agreement receives proper approvals from the Park Board to the City Council, Kearney said it’s full speed ahead. 

“Finalize the design, start construction early fall and ultimately complete in the Fall of 2023,” Kearney said.