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Sioux Falls mayor: New arena should go at old-arena site

Sioux Falls StampedeBucking the trend toward new downtown arenas, Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether says the most cost-effective way to build a new 12,000-seat facility is by locating it at the current arena site, rather than downtown.

The city has outgrown the current Sioux Falls Arena and Convention Center and is planning a replacement. A consultant hired by Huether, AECOM, recommends the current arena/convention center site as a way to bring in larger conventions. The current location is west of downtown alongside a minor-league ballpark. Build it Downtown, as you can guess by the name, wants to see the facility downtown.

A cursory examination of the rationale from AECOM yields some interesting factoids. First, AECOM assumes that a downtown site would draw fewer events, so therefore the existing site would draw more events. (Talk about a tautology!) Second, AECOM assumes there are far fewer parking spots downtown than there are or are planned.

In the end, parking is a big issue here — as it is with every new downtown arena, whether it’s in Wichita (where Intrust Bank Arena exceeded financial projections for its first year) or Evansville. Yeah, the notion of paying for parking or walking a few blocks to an event rankles some, especially those used to an arena with an expanse of surface parking. But one part of the equation for a new arena/events center has to be the potential of the development of local business, and there’s very little chance for any additional development in the general area of the existing arena.


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