A Million Here..A Million There

Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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One of my favorite TV shows growing up in the fifties was “The Millionaire.”
It wasn’t a reality show like today but a half hour drama series that ran for six years.
Each week an eccentric billionaire, John Beresford Tipton, would give a total stranger a cashier’s check for a million dollars..tax free.
Tipton apparently got his jollies from seeing how sudden wealth affected folks.
Once in a while, people would have fun blowing their windfall but usually they wound up proving the old saying that money can’t buy happiness.
 
A million bucks back then was a lot of money.
It still is a lot of money as far as I’m concerned but it apparently won’t buy you much if you’re spending it on coliseums, arenas and football stadiums.
 
From a study released a week or so ago, we learned that it would cost 7 and a half million dollars to fix up the “aging” Sioux Falls Arena if it’s to continue as the city’s main sports and entertainment facility.
Now, seemingly out of nowhere, comes a brand new plan for a brand new coliseum big enough to play football in (with a regular 100 yard field I wonder?) and seat from 14 to 20 thousand people.
And, here’s the best part…a single donor would likely pay half the 100 to 150 million dollar tab.  (I have a hunch the final figure will be closer to 150 mil)
No official word yet on who that donor might be but, let’s see, John Beresford Tipton was a fictional TV character..so.. I’m just stabbing in the dark here but could it be T. Denny Sanford?
Maybe he read my blog last week and decided to step up! (Okay, that’s a stretch.)
He’s as rich as they come, though, and committed to giving away his fortune before taking the big dirt nap.
Kelby Krabbenhoft, the head of Sanford Health and Dana Dykhouse, head of Sanford’s bank are riding point on the coliseum plan so you might assume that they’re charging ahead on T.Denny’s no-limit credit card.
I’ve always felt that if projects like this are such a great idea, and necessary for a growing metropolis like ours, the private sector would, and should, step forward to foot most of the bill and reap much of the profits.
Sioux Falls Taxpayers have demonstrated time and again with their votes that they aren’t interested in bankrolling indoor soccer fields or aquatic centers with wave machines and tunnel slides or an event center downtown.
 
But who could argue with this plan..especially if a big chunk of the cost is being privately donated?
I’m all for it but the old reporter in me still has a few questions.
 
1)      Is it just a coincidence that the report on the Arena upgrades with its big price tag, comes out just days before this coliseum idea is announced?
2)      Why has the Krabbenhoft offer of 35 acres of free (Sanford Hospital) land for an event center closer to the interstates been abandoned in favor of this one which will mean the loss of Howard Wood Field?
3)      What would become of the current Arena? I’ve heard some ideas about refitting the interior and can only imagine the taxpayer outcry when that bill comes in.
4)      Has anyone done any serious investigation into whether or not there are actually very many big name entertainers still touring that would be willing to come here on a regular basis and be able to fill the place?
5)      And, please, Superintendent Homan, explain how replacing and repainting some 2 by 12 wooden seats at Howard Wood Field plus dealing with some concrete issues is going to cost six or seven Million dollars?  Or is there evidence that the grandstands aren’t safe and should be condemned?
 
If not, I’ll bet Menards or Home Depot will give you a deal on that much lumber and I wouldn’t be surprised if some local cement contractors could do a very nice patch-up job for a bit less.  
 
Also, according to Homan, several more million (reportedly 4 or 5) is going to be needed to re-do the Howard Wood Field “press box.” (Did someone tell her that we didn’t get the bid for the Vikings training camp and the national media won’t be here?)
Somebody really has to carefully explain how replacing that press box is going to cost as much as five of the fanciest homes off of South Minnesota Avenue. Maybe that includes granite counter tops and a hot tub.
Which is my point.
If these dollar figures are exaggerated to dramatize the need for a big new event center.. taxpayers..like before..will go to the polls and put the kibosh on the whole thing.

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