Mayor presents potential timeline on Barnett Arena vote

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RAPID CITY, S.D. -

Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender held a public presentation Thursday to show his support for a new Rushmore Plaza Civic Center arena, and he laid out a timeline for development.

Rapid City residents have been faced with a choice to either remodel the Don Barnett Arena for $25 million and make the facility compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or build a new arena for an estimated $130 million with principal and interest.

Allender says the city council will vote on the matter in a special meeting on Feb. 26. After that, the community is welcome to petition for a public vote if they aren't happy with the council's decision. The deadline for a petition is March 20. If enough signatures are gathered, a public vote will be set for June 5.

No matter the outcome, Allender says the current arena will not be torn down. 

According to Rapid City Communications Coordinator Darrell Shoemaker, the Barnett Arena will still need to become ADA compliant no matter what the venue becomes. If it's used for similar purposes as now, the price tag is still $25 million. However, if the arena is converted to serve a different purpose, it may not require as many changes.

Allender says that with its projected economic impact, a new arena can paid off in 2 or 3 years. He also says a new arena would help events grow, like the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo.

“The Stock Show has been wanting to expand,” said Allender. “Last year, there were a number of vendors who didn't have space to set up booths here. If you're here during the week of the Stock Show, you can tell it's pretty wall-to-wall people ... It will greatly enhance those events and also attract new events.”

Allender will schedule more public presentations until the potential public vote in June. The next presentation is set for Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. in the Civic Center's LaCroix Hall A. The public can view the presentation online at www.barnettarena.com.

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