SPEARFISH | Mark Kazmer and the Northern Hills Hockey Association have worked for years to establish a venue for youth hockey in the Northern Hills.
Now he has expanded his focus to finding a spot for, and financing a building that could benefit the full range of youth sports in Spearfish and beyond.
Earlier this month Kazmer established Spearfish Youth Sports & Activities Association and is hoping to hire a national fundraising firm to help build a combination field house and indoor hockey arena to be located in one of four potential locations in Spearfish.
He said professional fund raisers have told him of achieving better overall success in a campaign involving benefit to a multiple of activities.
“It makes it a little more likely (for sponsors) to plunk down a check if they know their name’s going to be on something for five or ten years and have it affect multiple youth organizations,” Kazmer said.
He recently established a social media presence for the new SYSAA with posts on Facebook and Instagram, “just to get the word out,” he said.
The Facebook post received more than 300 "likes" within a few hours, he said.
“We got some real traction in the first hours of announcing that page and what we were trying to do,” he said.
The group’s Facebook page is topped by a conceptual image of what a new field house and hockey venue might look like.
The actual building design will be very different, he said, and is dependent on the site, which is still to be chosen from potential locations in a new development planned for the area of Interstate 90, Exit 10, and other locations in and around Exit 14 in Spearfish, he said.
“It’s not going to look anything like that. I needed to put something up,” he said. “A lot of what the design-to-be determines is based on the dirt that we wind up sinking the shovels into.”
Kazmer said a fundraising company plans a visit later in February to look at the potential sites. Before the visit, Kazmer said he will approach the Spearfish City Council to seek support for the fundraising venture.
He said until any contract is signed he is unable to release the name of the company, which, he said, has sold partnerships with National Football League franchises.
"If we bring in a fundraising company, they get paid and they get paid well. There’s going to be some people that are going to balk at what they get paid,” Kazmer said.
“If I don’t have a full-time job, I have enough contacts I could probably go and do this, but this is all volunteer,” said Kazmer, a realtor with Century 21 in Spearfish.
Kazmer is hoping to raise a minimum of $10 million for a youth sports and community activities facility to cater to basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, swimming, gymnastics, boxing and martial arts, pickleball, tennis, and even including a climbing wall.
Better establishing Spearfish as a sports tourism base will benefit hotels that battle low occupancy rates in the winter, he said.
“We’re missing that boat here. People want to come to Spearfish,” he said.
He said the field house, to be run by a non-profit governing board, could also be used for other community activities.
“It’ll be a youth-first facility and whenever it’s not being used we’ll look at other events that can generate revenue that can all go back to the running of the facility and the youth organizations themselves,” he said.