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Nielson Brothers: Sioux Falls Event Center Vote Anyone’s Game

...and demographic musing!

Mr. Ehrisman posts the results of a new Nielson Brothers poll on the upcoming Sioux Falls event center vote. The voting public remains evenly split, 42% in favor, 41% opposed, and a whole bunch of votes still up for grabs. It looks like every dollar spent on the campaign, including Heartland's contribution from Madison electric customers, is going to make a difference!

Nielson Brothers find that young people give the project the strongest support: 51% of the under-30 crowd is ready to vote yes. There's an interesting trough among the 30-45 crowd, with only 38% saying Build It Now! Support jumps back up to 46% among the 46-64 crowd, then drops back to 35% among the 65-plus crowd. My guess: the 30-45 crowd has more parents like me who don't have the time or disposable income for big concerts and ball games and thus don't see a new arena making as big a difference in their lives as good streets, parks, and snow removal.

I think I heard SDPB announce an interview with event center proponents and opponents coming up. KELO is also cranking up coverage, though Jen Holsen doubts viewers will learn anything new.

My dog remains out of this fight; I can think of just three events that I've attended in the current Sioux Falls arena since 1987. New building or old, Sioux Falls won't draw any more or any less of my recreational dollars.

But even if they build the new event center, Sioux Falls may face a more pressing demographic issue: the city's growth is slowing. The economy has caused more South Dakotans to stay put, causing Sioux Falls city planners to revise population growth projections down from 3500 to 2500 a year.

A lot of South Dakota towns would much rather have the problem of not growing as fast as before rather than stagnating like Madison or shrinking like numerous small towns. But state demographer Mike McCurry hints at an impending demographic shift that could impact Sioux Falls's aspirations:

When South Dakotans from rural areas move, they typically go to a more urban place such as Mitchell or Sioux Falls, said Mike McCurry, state demographer with the Census Data Center at South Dakota State University.

"It's really a stretch to go from the most rural counties to a totally urban one," he said.

It's the next generation, those who grew up in Sioux Falls, whom McCurry predicts will move to bigger cities such as Chicago and Minneapolis [Megan Luther, "Fewer South Dakotans Moving," that Sioux Falls paper, 2011.10.29].

Sioux Falls has benefited from beckoning thousands of young South Dakotans from their quiet prairie towns to South Dakota's brilliant, bustling city of light and love (come on, you know that's what fires the souls of all those kids from Montrose and Colman!). But what happens when those kids, now happily ensconced with bedrooms and a three-car garage in some cul-de-sac west of Marion Road, have their own kids, and those new kids grow up thinking of Sioux Falls as the small town with nothing to do, and Minneapolis as their beacon of hipness and opportunity? Could Sioux Falls be just a stepping stone in the emptying out of the prairie?


  1. Michael Black 2011.11.02

    Seniors vote and young people do not. Voter turnout will be the deciding factor in SF just as it will be in Madison.

  2. Douglas Wiken 2011.11.02

    Well, SDPB refused to ask what percentage of the ticket prices fly out of SD with the performer as soon as an event is over.

    They also refused to ask why should anything but increased ticket prices be used to finance the events center.

  3. Wayne B. 2011.11.03

    My real concern is we'll be paying more in taxes for something only the upper two quintiles can afford to attend. The median household income in SD is only what? $46k? How many families can really afford to go enjoy those events? I already don't go to much of the stuff at the Pavillion because it'd blow my entertainment budget.

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