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Opponents of a new Civic Center arena, led by four former mayors, anchor their criticisms on a myopic set of arguments that deserve response. They complain there are no blueprints for a new arena; no new tenants or events have been lined up; there’s no guarantee of new concerts for the new facility; the City can’t bond enough money for the purchase, will use a lease/leaseback scheme and a no-bid contract for a contractor of our own choosing.

This is a perfect example of how opposition groups work.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, will pay for “blueprints” prior to having a secure funding source (ours is not secure because the people haven’t yet voted). Total design costs for this arena will be in the millions of dollars. What we have at this moment are preliminary designs used to achieve accurate cost estimation. If someone were to authorize complete design including “blueprints,” they should be thrown out of office. The preliminary designs and cost estimations are being done by a professional architecture firm and construction firm. This will ensure an accurate and reliable budget.

There are no new tenants. Think about this: there were no tenants when the original Civic Center was built. How can a city secure a tenant when it doesn’t have a suitable arena, or in our case when the final approval for a new arena hasn’t yet been decided?

It’s illogical to expect we’d have agreements with future tenants or future conventions when we don’t know if the new arena will be built. The success of the new arena doesn’t depend on a tenant. Also, the total design and construction phases of the new arena will take between 2 ½-3 years.

No new events? Opponents want you to believe we should be securing events for a hypothetical new arena. Fact: the events we do have like the LNI, Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo, and Home Show and Sport Show will expand when we build a new arena. What we also know is we’ll be able to engage with promoters of other larger shows to come to Rapid City. Our floor space is limited currently, therefore so are our event possibilities.

Imagine this conversation: “Hey if we build a new arena will your event come to Rapid City?” This is not how business works. When Costco looks to build a store in a community, they don’t get verbal agreements from the potential customers. They rely on market favorability, just as we are.

No guarantee of new concerts. Again, how can there be a “guarantee“ of anything? Let alone events that will occur two to three years from now? Our 40 years of experience and updated market analysis indicate there will be additional concerts and other events.

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Can’t bond enough money? Absolutely false. We may use a combination of revenue bonds and certificates of participation, which the opposition group sees as a “scheme.” Nothing has been decided, but Rapid City has an excellent credit rating and we’re in an excellent financial position.

No-bid contract? It sounds like a contract you’d illegally award a relative without telling the public what’s going on. Governments are required to use a competitive process when awarding bids, period. Furthermore, our contracts are public record.

In summary, our plan is solid, is based on fact and is the modern way of conducting business. The opposition group offers an 11th hour plan that’s ill-timed, ill-conceived and unsuitable to meet modern events and future growth needs. They are also selling fear and doubt because there is nothing else for them to use.

Steve Allender is the mayor of Rapid City.

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