Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Sprint View or a Mile View to the Finish Line

Anybody watch the May 2011 Ask the Mayor? The second part of the segment dealt with the Event Center. The mayor said there was much to consider regarding his location recommendation and what made the most economic sense to him was:
  • the Arena Convention Center site will generate more sales tax dollars.
  • Greater return for our dollars
  • More people coming into town.
  • Utilize existing infrastructure.
  • Bigger events, more events, simultaneous events.
  • Common sense played a roll in the decision.
  • Consideration of what we already have - 4 lane roads, good supply of parking, a 15 year old convention center, an arena.
  • What the people want - he was told flat where the people wanted it to be during the campaign and since he was elected. The vast majority prefers it at the arena.
  • 6 out of 10 people will be coming from out of town. We have to cater to the customer.
  • The arena site is more prudent and cheaper to built there. We will get a return a lot quicker.
The mayor said the Build It Downtown group is a minority and they have to realize what the majority want. They want it at the Arena/Convention Center location.

When asked to define the difference between commercial and economic development, the mayor said:
  • There is a distinct difference between commercial development and economic development.
  • The reason you build it there is for total economic return - that's sales tax dollars.
  • You don't build an event center to bring new restaurants, hotels and shops. They are not the main indicator of success.
  • You create a powerful economic engine when you build an event center connected to a convention center because major, major events as well as major, major conventions will occur.
I am still a little fuzzy on the mayor's definition between commercial and economic development. I have yet to hear a really good answer to the difference as he sees it and he has been asked about it a number of times now. He makes no mention of the opportunity for private development at his favorite site. Really, how much private land is available for development adjacent to the arena site? Shouldn't expanding property tax revenue be part of that economic development discussion?

I know I am probably beating a dead horse to death but let's be realistic if you want to talk about commercial or economic development. An event center along the river greenway at Cherapa Place has more adjacent land for private development than the Arena/Convention Center site. There is land along the river and in the uptown area of Falls Park. When the relocation of the railroad out of downtown happens, almost 16 acres of prime real estate will open up for parking and development opportunities. 

To me, this mayor does not see the value (or maybe he doesn't understand the value) in planning for the future. He is only interested in what he can make happen quick and cheap just to get it done. We shouldn't be focused on getting a return "a lot quicker." The city should be focused on a return that will be sustaining for 50 years or longer. Contrary to what this mayor thinks, there is value in long term planning.

The mayor is banking his return on investment forecast mainly on more major, major events and more major, major conventions. Estimates made by a consultant. Estimates made by consultants 15 years ago when the convention center was built and still haven't materialized.

I hope the city council has the long view instead of the short view. The city's future in terms of economic development and return on investment is dependent on it. It's the mayor's job to convince the voting public that this thing is doable. I wonder if he will make it to the finish line.


    1. I watched this episode a few days back. Did you catch the part about catering to the out-of-towners? Well guess what Mike, we vote on it, they do not. We put the Pavilion DT, and isn't it amazing how the hicks find it when they need to see a country concert? Truly astonishing that they can follow directions to our DT and find the Pavilion, isn't it? And on their venture they pass many fine eating, drinking and C-store like establishments that they will probably spend money at. While I am a critic of the PAV for management procedures and lack of transparency, I can honestly say it revitalized DT. There wasn't crap DT before they opened the doors. Minerva's, K's and TOE, that's it. If a 1900 seat facility can produce that kind of growth, imagine what a 15,000 seat facility can do? But just for the record, I don't support building a new EC, but if the voters say yes, DT is the right choice. Duh.

    2. "6 out of 10 people will be coming from out of town. We have to cater to the customer."

      I can't believe you said this, mayor! If we cater to the people who drive in and out, how does that feed any economic benefit to Sioux Falls at all! Commercial, economic...mumble jumble and I thought you said you had business acumen. Your words prove you wrong.

    3. All he is doing is getting ready for his next campaign. He didn't want to be mayor, he wanted to be governor, so he is trying to get the next run ready. He is in for a very big surprise. I know so many people who voted for him, who at this time would love to take their vote back and vote for Kermit! They would have had the devil they knew - not this egomaniac!

    4. For those of you that think the SF economy is not driven by the out of towners -- The out of towners are Harrisburg, Hartford, Tea, Canton, Lennox, Baltic, Renner, Brandon, Larchwood, Rock Rapids, LuVerne, Beaver Creek, Hills, Pipestone, Montrose, and I could go further out. These people all work in Sioux Falls, spend money in Sioux Falls on a daily basis, and fill up the parking lots of our malls, are season ticket holders of our "pro" sporting teams, go to events, and probably do make up over half of the people at many Sioux Falls activities as they are more mobile and have more disposable income than many in Sioux Falls.

    5. You are right about out of town people to some extent. Although, the tone of your comment reminds me many years ago when a City Employee of Hartford told me that Sioux Falls was growing because of Hartford. Let's keep our perspective and all work together?

    6. I don't know anyone who doesn't understand or appreciate our neighbors outside of the city limits who work, visit and shop in Sioux Falls. Our neighbors contribute to our sales tax revenue. Sales tax revenue is important to our economy. That's why this ec debate goes on about where it should be built.

    7. I think the catch phrase is "catering to those that drive in and out". To me that statement means they come to the EC and don't stop, shop, eat etc., anywhere. We all know in Sioux Falls that those neighbors living in Minnesota and Iowa contribute greatly to the economy of Sioux Falls and they are appreciated!

    8. "6 out of 10 people will be coming from out of town. We have to cater to the customer."

      I find that to be way over the top. Where do they dig up these numbers? Take a typical Event that will fill our shiny new EC to 25% of its seating capacity, 3000. I would venture 90% of the 1200 vehicles parked for this Event would have Minnehaha or Lincoln county plates. And those same 1200 vehicles attending this "Event" would probably have spent that same amount of money that week or month at some other SF venue anyway. So tell me...where is the economic impact in that?

      Honest Mike has told us, as has Munson, 40% of the cars parked in the Tyson EC parking lots are from Minnehaha and Lincoln county. And the Tyson EC still has very meager attendance numbers. I'm talking the kind of attendance numbers our own 7000 seat arena could easily handle. Will our shiny new EC have 40% of it's license plates coming from Woodbury county? Laughable.

      Polly Amalo