Rapid City Rush, civic center reach new deal

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Rapid City Rush and the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center are strengthening their business ties.

On Thursday, the civic center and the Rush announced a new three-year agreement that has the civic center offering financial support, in exchange for greater influence in management of the team’s business. The facility would also assume some of the team’s financial risk and could lose money if the team’s financial situation does not improve.

Declining ticket sales and poorly structured financing that saddled the team with unexpected expenses back when the ice arena was built have created tough times for the team.

Civic Center Executive Director Craig Baltzer said, “[The Rush] have been a strong partner, made a lot of money for the civic center over the last 10 years, that — you know what? — we need to see if we can help them out, keep them afloat, because we want Rush Hockey to be here long term.”

The civic center makes money from concession sales at Rush games. Over the past 10 seasons, that income has totaled more than $10,000,000.

Baltzer is hopeful that the support the facility provides will help the team reach financial stability.

“I’m expecting that that amount of money that we might need to help them out with would diminish each year,” he said, “and hopefully within that three years, down to nothing.”

Mayor Steve Allender noted that the Rush/civic center relationship is more of a partnership than a landlord-tenant relationship. He says the type of agreement announced Thursday — where the facility has some say in the team’s management — is not uncommon across the nation.