This is the first blog for g_mandakota. First of all, Mike H, thank you for the invite to participate. For those of you who care, g_mandakota is from northeast SD.

I was thinking of a topic for my first blog. After last night’s Sioux Falls Event Center Vote, we are going to have a non-Sioux Falls Event Center Debate. On one side we have the Arena location supporters. On the other side we have the Build It Downtown (BID) supporters.

The vast majority of non-SF residents go to Sioux Falls for three reasons; healthcare, shopping, and entertainment. The amount of money the “non-metro” residents spend in SF is a major economic factor for SF.

The Arena supporters start out the debate by stating there is one common thread that ties us together. We all prefer to get in and out of Sioux Falls the easiest way possible in the least amount of time. We all hate the traffic of Sioux Falls specifically Minnesota Ave and 41st Street. Hate is a strong word, but it is very fitting when it comes to fighting the traffic of SF.

We go to the Empire Mall to shop as it is easy to get in an out. We come into Sioux Falls on I-29, take Exit 77, and take a short drive to the east on 41st St to the Empire Mall area. We get in, spend our money, and get out. We elect to avoid our hate for SF traffic and spend that extra hour it takes to go downtown (30 minutes in and 30 minutes back out) to travel back home.

We love the ease and familiarity of getting in and out of the Arena location to attend events. We take Exit 81, head east on Russell St., and arrive at the Arena without having to fight the normal SF traffic.

There are several of us that attend SDHSAA Events, Summit League Events, and other events at the Arena. We either spend several days in Sioux Falls, plan on spending only one day to attend the event, or attend based on a “spur of the moment”. It is possible to make it a one-day experience by spending 2 hours driving to Sioux Falls, 3 hours for the event, and spend 2 hours driving back home. We are tired when we get home, but we all agree it was worth the trip as we really enjoyed the live experience. In the end, the deciding factor is time and money.

If the Event Center is built downtown, you can add an additional hour of travel plus the stress of the SF traffic. Due to these two factors, us one day or “spur of the moment” attendees, opt to stay home. We can listen on the radio or watch on TV, and not have to deal with the extra hour to go downtown and the stress of Sioux Falls traffic.

The BID supporters point out the fact that downtown Sioux Falls has unique specialty stores and the beautiful Falls Park area. They point out the parking in the Arena location is congested, and that once us non-SF residents get used to the one-way streets in downtown Sioux Falls that we will learn to love the ease of getting in and out of downtown SF. If the EC is built downtown, all of these amenities of downtown SF will be that much better. In the end we will help improve downtown SF, and can take pride that we helped enhance the downtown experience that only a downtown location can provide versus the Arena location. In the end, they point out the obvious that we will attend SDSHAA events and the Summit League tournaments no matter the location as they are unique to SF.

As with all good debates, the Arena supporters respond to BID supporters. Everyone agrees SF has done a wonderful job of improving the Falls Park area and developing downtown. We will visit downtown Sioux Falls and the Falls Park area when we have an extra couple hours such as when we take on one of our mini weekend vacations to Sioux Falls. One such popular weekend vacation is the Ramada Inn and Water Park next to the Arena.

We do realize there are congested traffic issues at the Arena during the event. It is not the “event traffic” that concerns us as “event traffic” issues will exist no matter whether the EC is located. There is “event traffic” at the Fargo Dome, Metrodome, and Target Field. It is the ease and amount of time it takes to get in and out that is our number one concern.

Yes, we may still attend the SDHSAA and Summit League events if the EC is built downtown as there is no other option for those events. However; it will take us an extra hour to attend the downtown event, which is the difference maker between the need to spend the night in Sioux Falls versus returning home the same evening. Several of us simply cannot afford the extra cost of overnight lodging. We do have the option to watch Mike H on SDPB or Tom Nieman on Midco Sports.

If the same event is being held in Fargo such as a Bon Jovi concert, we will weigh our options between the Fargo Dome versus the Downtown Sioux Falls Event Center. The distance between Fargo and Sioux Falls are similar. As much as we want to keep our SD money in SD, we will elect to go to Fargo since our time and hate for local SF traffic is more valuable than where we spend our money. This is especially true when we only have the time for one day and/or cannot afford overnight lodging.

In the end, we agree on one fact after the debate. The “rural” SD residents will go to Sioux Falls, Fargo, and Sioux City for entertainment. The amount of money we spend at these events more than likely is the difference maker between the Event Centers making a profit versus not making a profit even if the metro areas do not believe we make a difference. The entire of SD will help pay for the Event Center. It is our decision where we attend the Event, which will be largely dependent upon the ease of getting in and out and the value of our time.