S.D. City Council Considers Corn Palace Expansion

Sat April 05, 2008 - Midwest Edition

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) City Council President Ken Tracy said it might be time to take another look at expanding the Corn Palace rather than building a new events center in Mitchell.

It may be too difficult to justify construction of a second arena, so expanding the Corn Palace, perhaps by 2,000 seats, may be the best way for the city to regain some lost events and add new ones, he said.

His comments came after the release of a telephone survey of Mitchell residents on the size of an events center and tax increases to pay for it.

The 3,200-seat arena in the Corn Palace is considered too small to host state high school sports events.

Thirty-eight percent of survey respondents said the city needs a 5,000-seat facility; 32 percent said the city needs a 7,000-seat or bigger facility.

Tracy said a 5,000-seat facility with approximately 30,000 sq.-ft. (2,787 sq m) of usable floor space could accommodate many of the events the city covets, with the possible exceptions of state boys’ basketball tournaments and the state pool and dart tournaments.

“Those are two important things,” Tracy said, “but if those two are going to drive up the cost to a point where it’s prohibitive, then I guess we have to step back and say, Well, what can we do?”

A task force met for nearly 2.5 years to produce a proposal for a new arena that was rejected by 69 percent of the voters in September. That plan called for a property tax increase to support construction of a 7,000-seat, $25 million arena along the state Highway 37 bypass.