The future of Barnett Arena could be decided in the new year, as Rapid City, SD officials are expected to weigh in with their plans for the facility in February.
Home to hockey’s Rapid City Rush (ECHL), Barnett Arena at Rushmore Civic Plaza Center is currently the subject of debate. City officials are considering their options for the venue going forward, including a plan that would see it renovated. In an alternate scenario, the facility would be replaced in favor of a new arena.
Additional public presentations on the issue will take place over the first few weeks of 2018, according to mayor Steve Allender. While no official date has been scheduled, it is expected that there will be a February meeting in which the city council will consider the long-term plan as it relates to Barnett Arena and Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. More from the Rapid City Journal:
Allender has said in previous presentations that building a new arena would cost around $182 million, including principal and interest. The estimated $6 million annual debt payments for the arena would tie up 54 percent of the city’s Vision Fund collections over a 30-year period.
Remodeling Barnett Arena would cost up to $28.3 million, including interest. That plan would also take money from the Vision Fund, but with lower annual debt payments and a quicker payoff period.
The city must move forward with one of the two options because Barnett Arena is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the federal government is requiring the city to come into compliance.
The council’s decision is expected in February, but it is anticipated that voters could ultimately weigh in on the matter later in the year as part of a referendum. Under South Dakota law, the issue would be included on the ballot if five percent of registered city voters sign a petition. The referendum could take place on June 5, 2018. A 2015 referendum that called for a $180-million expansion of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center was rejected by Rapid City voters.