Saturday, February 28, 2015

Current civic center is a zero sum game

According to the AECOM study "the complex generated a net income of approximately $430,000 and $860,000 in 2012 and 2013." [p. 30]

I don't suppose a comparison has been made about this, but I'm wondering what the difference in income to the city would be between the civic center fixed up to ADA standards as opposed to the expanded version.  In other words, would we be better or worse off, just as far as actual civic center income, with one or the other?  Or is this farther in the AECOM report, since I'm only on page 30?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Rochester, MN civic center to cost $85 million

"It looks likely that the Rochester City Council on Monday will award Knutson Construction the contract for the $85 million Mayo Civic Center renovation and expansion, which is expected to get underway in late March or early April....

In addition to the construction cost, other expenditures for the renovation and expansion project include about $2.6 million in architectural and construction coordination services and about $3.4 million for fixtures, furniture and technology equipment, Krogstad said. In addition, about $2.8 million has already been spent on Mayo Civic Center improvements, which are part of the overall project, Neumann said."

I'm just posting this for a comparison.

200 attend forum

"That's one thing both sides here were able to agree on. Former Mayor Alan Hanks says facility is a gem that must be maintained and improved. But he argues that the current plan, favored by Mayor Sam Kooiker but opposed by Hanks and four other former mayors, is too big, too expensive and too risky. Hanks wants a new plan.
Downtown businessman Tony DeMaro insists that the real risk is in failing to reshape the city's aging Civic Center so it can serve the community's future.  Project supporters agreed with that."

Also see

Opinion; expansion takes city over it's borrowing limit

"Our Legislature sets legal debt limits for every municipality to insure residents will not be subject to excessive debt. Rapid City's limit is $212 million. Currently, we have $92 million in outstanding bonds, leaving a maximum of $120 million in bonding capacity.
The civic center expansion is projected to cost $180 million. That's $60 million (30 percent) over our legal bonding indebtedness. To pay this difference, the city will issue Certificates of Participation to investors. The city will then survey and plat that $60 million construction portion and commence a sale-leaseback with investors. Once the city repays investors, ownership reverts back to Rapid City."

Interesting point. And I agree, this is too many eggs in one basket.  I'm beginning to think this is all about Sanford Premier Center envy.

Thursday panel discussion; some agreement, some dispute

"The opponents Thursday night agreed that the arena needs to be updated, but they said the current plan has not been vetted thoroughly enough to ease the financial risks involved for the costliest public project in Rapid City history. If the expansion is denied March 10, the next step is developing a plan that can pass muster and pass a public vote, Wahlstrom said.
Project proponents said Thursday it is entirely possible that the $180 million option put before voters may come in over budget and require downsizing, Demaro said. In such a case, he said, the door would still be open to make the proposed arena fit the $180 million budget.
Ultimately, if the project fails during the citywide referendum, the next step would be to go back to the drawing board to find a compromise proposal that will pass, Demaro said.
'Here's what I do love about our situation right now; we talked about this, no matter what happens on March 10, we're going to get together and shake hands and put everything back together,' Demaro told the crowd of nearly 70 residents."

Also see

Thursday, February 26, 2015

former Mayor Barnett answers questions

"Do you think citizens will vote in favor of a new arena, and why?
Absolutely. I think every neighborhood in Rapid City has benefited from the civic center during the last 40 years. The basketball tournaments and the other events: the rodeos and the concerts, the conventions, the fine arts auditorium, the symphony, so many, many users. I think without a doubt, the people know that they have a public treasure at the civic center, and I believe the people will strongly endorse what the City Council is courageously doing."

Letters to the editor with opposing views

Jerome Wright questions the motive of the Fix the Plan former mayors.

Ed Randazzo questions the method of paying for the expansion.

Here's the AECOM expansion study


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Parking fee to use new structure?

"The 'Fix The Plan – Vote No' Committee held a conference to discuss the AECOM study, which proposes charging for some parking if the expansion plan goes through.
Spokesperson Richard Wahlstrom says if the project is approved by voters next month it would dramatically increase the cost, and the consultants say in order to make up for the operating deficit the center should begin charging for two thousand parking spaces on the lots surrounding the building ranging from three to five dollars.
Wahlstrom says, 'Before you vote to build a $180 million facility, you've got to know how it's going to be paid for, and you need to be aware that a $5 parking fee to park where you used to park for free on the grounds here at the Civic Center is a part of that.'"

Also, Fox News will have a program Sunday about the Civic Center.

See also,

If you build it, they won't care? LNI may pull out

"LNI is the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center's second largest event of the year, so talk of moving out of Rapid City is a concern for the Rapid City Chamber and Visitors Bureau.  'It's a big economic impact especially the time of year. Obviously the week before Christmas is when this takes place, so we're looking at over three million dollars in direct spending and that's just basketball,' Domico Rodriguez with the Rapid City Chamber and Visitors Bureau said.
Rodrirguez says local restaurants and shops get a huge boost each year from LNI tournament goers.  He says the Chamber has a great relationship with the LNI Board and he's hopeful that they'll keep the games here.  As of right now, that's the plan. the LNI board voted earlier this month to keep the tournament in Rapid City.
If the LNI board sticks with their decision to keep the tournament in Rapid City, tribe leaders say they'll ask people who live on the reservation to boycott the event. "

We need to be careful about predicting the future. In the case of the Civic Center expansion, we NEED to try to predict the future. But we should not be dazzled with glorious predictions that may not be based in reality.  A bigger place might give us more events, but on the other hand, we might have already lost events to Sioux Falls in the meantime.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Promotions, promotions everywhere. Not so much from the opponents

That's a promotional web site for the civic center expansion. I've seen lawn signs, a billboard, heard a radio commercial. newscenter1 is basically a promotional media outlet for the expansion.

Meanwhile, it's very hard to find the opponents except in news stories. What gives?  I mean, obviously the people who want the expansion the most are businesses, so no doubt they are pushing this. But where are the opponents?  Five ex-mayors speak at a press conference, but where are they online?  I don't see resistance to this project online anywhere.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Why the huge discrepency in ADA fix price?

In this KOTA article, the price for fixing the ADA problems in the Civic Center is $38 million.  But in this Newscenter 1 interview, Mayor Sam Kooiker says it's $72 million. Why the huge difference?

Opinion; listen to 5 previous mayors

"It is hard to get two politicians to agree to anything so when our previous five previous mayors stand up at a press conference and say “Vote No, Fix the Plan” we should listen to their combined experience and wisdom."

I keep looking online for any presence of "Fix The Plan" but haven't found it yet.  that's one reason I started this blog.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

vehicle access problems at Civic Center

   To the north of the Civic Center is a hill that prevents any road access from North Street.  To the south is the city park that has no vehicle traffic going through it.  So vehicle access is only from the west and east.
   I have been through 5th Street on the east side and Mt. Rushmore Road on the west when large events are happening at the Civic Center. It is a mess.  Not only vehicle traffic clogging, but people trying to cross the road from other parking areas to get to the Civic Center.  I don't think this traffic problem has been addressed in the new civic center plan?  If it's bad now, how much worse will it be with bigger events, or two events happening at the same time?
   Please let me know if the traffic problem is addressed in the new design. I haven't seen any mention of it.

The view from Sioux Falls

"For nostalgia buffs, this east-west facility battle harkens back to 1972, when Rapid City approved a referendum to increase sales tax to pay for a new arena that could lure state basketball tournaments, which had been held exclusively in Sioux Falls since 1965 and were held out west only once before that.
City efforts ultimately led to the opening of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in 1977, with late-era Elvis Presley playing the first concert and the big-school (then Class A) basketball tournament arriving the following year.
Since three-class basketball was adopted in 1985-86, Sioux Falls and Rapid City have rotated Class AA and A boys tournaments while waiting for the next facility shuffle, which occurred when Sioux Falls voters finally grew tired of an arena that was built in 1961.
Now Rapid City's arena is faltering, with city officials claiming it will cost "at least $70 million" to resolve violations of the American with Disabilities Act involving elevators, stairways, restrooms and railings. For several years, the narrative was that an anonymous complaint had been filed against the city, leading to a federal inspection and ADA settlement.
But at a news conference last week, city attorney Joel Landeen revealed in a Perry Mason moment that there actually was no complaint, providing fuel to project opponents who want to study the issue further to find a less costly means of moving ahead.
Just as Sioux Falls settled for a 12,000-seat capacity arena to keep the price palatable for voters ($173 million if you count interest), it would make sense for Rapid City to explore less grandiose ways to revamp its sports and entertainment center."

This is a thoughtful piece that gives another perspective on just what events might come to Rapid City if a larger facility is built.  Proponents should think long and hard about this question; what if you build it and they don't come?

Promotional video from Midwest Marketing

No comment.

Newscenter 1's "Power of the Penny" is promotion, not news coverage

This is a one-sided puff-piece, not an example of journalism. 
   I would note that Mayor Kooiker says just fixing the ADA problems would cost $72 million. That is much higher than the $38 million I've seen elsewhere.
   The notion that the civic center would have to be shut down for 2 to 3 years to make the ADA fixes makes no sense to me.  I would like proponents of the expansion to explain why this would be.  Can't you fix, then stop a bit for a big event, then start again?  I'm confused on this point.
   Also, the fear that Sioux Falls would permanently scoop up any events that would otherwise come here is always a potential issue, regardless of whether the civic center closes for a time or not.

If voters approve, construction could start in June

"If funding of the arena is approved in March, completing the final design could take up to eight additional months, depending on when the Rapid City Council approves the contract for that design, according to city Operations Management Engineer Rod Johnson.
'There is still a lot of design work to be done that the council isn't going to authorize, depending on the results of the election' Johnson said.
He explained the sequence of events this way: First comes the completion of a final design; next comes opening the project to competitive bidding; then, after the awarding of bids, construction begins.
Heavy construction on the proposed expansion could begin this fall but ultimately span into the winter, Johnson said."

This is a confusing article. On the one hand, it sounds like construction will start right away with the current price tag. On the other, it sounds like construction is still a ways off, and meanwhile the price could go up in some unknown amount.

former mayor: Vision Fund not just for Civic Center

"To combine the Vision money with the Capital Improvements Program, alter the selection process, and hijack the entire fund to fulfill the bonding requirement for one $180 million entertainment facility is wrong. The public trust has been violated. I vote no.
— Ed McLaughlin, Rapid City mayor 1991-1997"

Too many eggs in one basket.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Are we bold (vote for civic center) or timid (vote against)?

"The time has come for us to reinvest in one of our community’s signature economic engines. The proposal to expand the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center by building a new multi-use arena and highly functional convention space has been methodically vetted by a diverse cross-section of seasoned professionals and citizens over the past three years.
Some of these folks have a lot of valuable history in Rapid City and others represent a new chapter in Rapid City’s history, including today’s young professionals and our youth population. That’s really what this opportunity is all about. What we are being asked to do is not that much different than what leaders and citizens in the 1970’s did for future generations, including many who will vote on March 10. We can best honor that vision by perpetuating it, not simply watching it die a slow death.
We need a new arena in order to compete with our peer cities over the next half century. Competing for people — people who will examine the civic infrastructure and lifestyle amenities of the community before deciding to call it home; people from the entire Rushmore Region who will choose to spend their time and money on entertainment, sporting events, conventions, trade shows and much more in Rapid City; and the millions of people from even farther away who visit our community every year for special events, tourism-related activities and upon whom we will be making lasting impressions for years."

I don't consider myself timid for being against this plan. I consider myself prudent.

Parking expansion not enough for larger civic center?

The current expansion plan calls for 500 new parking spaces total.  Many believe this is not enough. Plus, a lot of the new parking will have a fee.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Will higher income from a larger civic center actually appear, of are other city projects to be starved?

"Don Frankenfeld is a consulting economist who also serves on the Civic Center board.  Frankenfeld says, 'I think the ultimate question is what sacrifices are involved in making the decision in going forward with this $180 million expenditure.  There will be costs and what will those costs be?'
The $180 million expenditure for the civic center expansion means that for five to seven years, no additional Vision money will be available for other projects that have tapped into these funds.  That would include such projects as the Hospice House, Storybook Island, Canyon Lake dam reconstruction, the Club for Boys, and the soccer complex on Elk Vale Road.
Even after that time period, each year for the next 30 years, about $11 million of the Vision Fund will be allocated to pay off the expansion debt. "

The assumption seems to be that the larger civic center will produce larger income for the city.  But will this larger income offset the huge expense?  I think not.

ADA changes would cost $36-37 million

"Jerry Wright says, 'What we have is a report that was done by Forefront design and backed by a comparative estimate by Mortensen and it was 36 million and other was 37 that's the ADA. These are our numbers right here our reports. If they got another report lets see it.'"

Will the Rapid City civic center be in competition with Sioux Falls?

"The Denny Sanford Premier Center [in Sioux Falls] opened in October of 2014. It cost $117 million to complete. The Premier Center can seat up to 13000 and it added 30,000 square feet of flat floor space to the adjacent convention center and arena.
Compare that to the proposed Rushmore Plaza expansion in Rapid City. The new arena in Rapid City would cost $120 million dollars. That's in addition to the $40 million cost to rebuild the Don Barnett arena. It would add about 50,000 square feet of floor space and add another 10,000 seats."

I'm not sure whether this is a good argument against the Civic Center. If an act could fill both Civic Centers as it travels across the country, why wouldn't they?  On the other hand, what act could fill both?

Have proponents of the expansion been lying?

"We get to the $70 million price point when we add the estimated' order of magnitude' SWAGS of $30,640,659 for general repairs and updates (click here to see the estimate), far beyond what is necessary to address the ADA violations. Look at the estimate and you will see that it includes sound system upgrades, a kitchen remodel and expanded storage, stage equipment, sport flooring, and a stage and back stage addition. The $70 million would get us a brand new arena, for uses which might or might not be in our citizen’s best interest.
The next alarm is the claim that if we don’t approve the plan as presented to us, we won’t have sufficient time to complete the repairs required by the DOJ settlement—a settlement that has not to this date been signed by the DOJ.  Even if the Mayor’s 'deal' did exist, look for yourself at the required actions listed in 'Attachment A' of the supposed DOJ settlement.
These actions can easily be completed with a separate design and bid contract within the next twelve months. They must be completed by the deadline whether we build a new arena or not—building another arena during that timeframe just complicates the matter."

This is a very compelling article with a lot of documentation.  Well worth considering.

"If you build it, they will come"

"So how does that affect the revenue projections? KOTA Territory News spoke with the authors of the AECom Feasibility Study who said that if the city is not planning on obtaining two new sports teams, it will have to make up for the shortfall in revenue some other way. Opponents to the plan want more details on how that would be done.
Former Rapid City Mayor Alan Hanks outlines is concerns. 'All the projections, the economic studies, all include two additional sports teams that are supposed to be residents of the new arena but yet the city officials said publicly that, although they are included, at this time the city has no desire or intent of getting two new teams and that's fine but you are going to have go back and adjust those projections.'"

But hey, it worked in the movies right?  Is the new Civic Center plan a "field of dreams"?

Voting information from KOTA radio

"Residents wishing to make voter registration changes, request absentee ballots or to vote early for the March 10 special election must do so by 5 p.m. February 23 at the Pennington County Auditor's Office.  Early voting also begins February 23. 
Applications are currently being taken for absentee voting and requests can be made by mail or in person with the Auditor's Office.  Ballots will go out in the mail beginning February 23 and absentee voting is open from February 23 through March 9.
A sample ballot will be published March 4.
No changes will be made in polling places for the March 10 election.
For more information, contact the Pennington County Auditor's Office at 394-2153.  Information is also available at or"

thank you KOTA

Ballot language might be confusing

"The language voters will see on the ballot in the March 10 special election that will decide the fate of the proposed $180 million expansion of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center is 'somewhat confusing to the average voter,' according to independent assessments by a trio of political science professors, two from South Dakota.
And those experts tended to agree that the dense nature of the explanatory language may hurt the measure's chances of being approved.
Meanwhile, Rapid City Attorney Joel Landeen, who wrote the ballot message, said recently that state law restricted his explanation to just 200 words and that he, too, worries the issue was too complex for a boiled-down summary account. Landeen encouraged local residents to use available resources to educate themselves before casting their ballots."

"The ballot language voters will see on March 10
            A 'Yes' vote is for approval of the resolution and authorizes the City to issue the sales tax obligations and proceed with the current plan for renovation and expansion of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
            A 'No' vote is against approval of the resolution and prohibits the City from issuing the sales tax obligations and will prevent the City from moving forward with the current plan for the renovation and expansion of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center."

As I see it, a No vote would require the city to upgrade the civic center to be under ADA requirements.  This has a price tag of $38 million, or $142 million less than the plan being voted on. Any city just has so much money, just like your own economic situation.  $142 million that the city fathers agree COULD be spent on the city would then be available for more pressing problems like our schools.

Facebook pages for both sides



Well, Stan's page is not specifically about the Civic Center, but he's against it.  It doesn't look like the no vote people are social network savvy.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The ADA shortfalls at the Civic Center

"The Justice Department has identified many ADA deficiencies in the Barnett Arena. The city accepted that all those items needed correction and has now entered into an agreement with the Justice Department to fix them. The items to be corrected are listed in an attachment to the settlement agreement.
Rapid City Attorney Joel Landeen says that the city did not try to negotiate around any of the items listed by the DOJ. 'e didn't want to argue about it, we didn't want to have litigation. All of the stuff in the balance of the facility we thought was legitimate' said Landeen.
The Justice Department noted that a pervasive problem in the arena is that there are not seats for people with disabilities at all levels of the facility. Right now, there is only one handicapped section. The other DOJ concerns mostly has to do with floor slopes being greater than 5 percent, counter heights, and bathrooms.
Proponents of the expansion say it will cost the city $38 million to address all the ADA concerns."

So from $38 million to $180 million. So that's...  $142 million more. Meanwhile, our schools are firing people because they don't have enough money to function normally.

I am proud of the education I got here in Rapid City, from kindergarten to the 9th grade.  I think that is the backbone of our community, not a place to have concerts.

Upcoming meetings to discuss civic center plan

"The first forum will be held at 11:15 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 27, at the civic center. It will be hosted by the Black Hills Forum and Press Club and the format starts with a debate between a supporter and opponent of the plan.
The forum is scheduled to last for two hours and will be held at the civic center. It features former Mayor Alan Hanks, who opposes the expansion plan, and Murphy’s Pub & Grill owner Tony DeMaro, who supports the project. Another former mayor, Ed McLaughlin, will discuss the history of the Vision Fund, which is supported by sales tax and has been tapped to repay the bonds issued to finance the project.
According to a release from the press club, the forum will last two hours and cost $15 to attend if you make a reservation by Feb. 24. The cost includes lunch. Attorney Stephen Wesolick, who is organizing the event, said that as of Wednesday 130 people had made reservations. For more information, call 721-7665.
The Rapid City Journal and the chamber of commerce forum will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. on Feb. 28 at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Classroom Building at 501 E. Saint Joseph St.
It is a free event where the public will get the opportunity to ask questions of a panel that includes city council member Charity Doyle, civic center Executive Director Craig Baltzer, city Finance Director Pauline Sumption, City Attorney Joel Landeen and Donovan Broberg of ARC International, which is part of the team that is designing the project."

Of course my weird work hours mean I can't go :(  I'm glad to see so much discussion and debate about this issue.

Five former mayors speak out against civic center plan

"RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Five former mayors of Rapid City are opposing a proposed $180 million expansion of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
Former mayors Keith Carlyle, Ed McLaughlin, Jim Shaw, Jerry Munson and Alan Hanks have joined the Fix the Plan committee, which aims to rally voters against what would be the costliest project in Rapid City history. A public referendum is scheduled March 10."

Information at the Civic Center site

"Why not remodel the existing Barnett Arena?
To remodel the Barnett Arena for ADA, Life Safety, Fire Marshall, and Building Code Compliance purposes will cost at least $70 million and would result in the loss of several hundred seats.  Remodeling may take up to five years, during which time events would have to relocate or take a  hiatus. Some may choose not to come back to Rapid City as an event venue. Losing events due to prolonged remodeling work will have a negative impact on our local economy and our sales tax revenues."

Opinion; "Civic Center Expansion needs to get done"

"...To consider just making the updates to the arena would result in a smaller facility that would still not meet the needs of today’s events. Personally, that sounds like putting a pint job on a car with 500,000 miles.
The focus should remain on safety, most notably, for the disabled. I am willing to sacrifice the construction of park houses and swimming pools for a few years."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It's just too big, say some

"Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker added: 'Building this facility for 2013 or 2014 doesn’t make much sense. We should really be building this for 2027.'
But for some, the plan isn't a dream but rather a fairy tale.
Former mayor Alan Hanks isn’t alone in those concerns. He stands with four other former mayors who say that the blue concept is overplanned and under thought.
The five mayors have banded together to form a committee called Fix the Plan."