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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Private Donors Fund State University Athletic Facilities...

...why can't Madison HS do the same?

Speaking of new gyms, the South Dakota Board of Regents meets this week in Rapid City to discuss, among other things, the University of South Dakota's proposal to add on to the Dakota Dome. USD wants to build a new arena for basketball and volleyball along with some sports office and classroom space. USD hopes to consolidate their Health, Phys Ed, and Rec program into this one facility. The Dome itself may also get some repair and bleacher updates.

Agenda item III-K doesn't offer a dollar figure for the project yet (just developing the plan will cost $50K), but it does say up front that funding will come from private funding and possible federal grants to complement our Higher Education Facility Fund dollars.

South Dakota State University is also on the Regents' agenda with a proposal to raze Coughlin Alumni Stadium and build a new 20K-plus-seat football stadium. Agenda item III-F says SDSU anticipates funding the new facility through a combination of fees, sponsorships, and private donations. The $400K to $600K price tag for mere development of the plan will come entirely from private gifts to the SDSU Foundation.

SDSU also wants to build a new indoor all-sport training facility (agenda item III-H). Developing the facility plan will cost $250K to $350K. Proposed funding appears to come entirely from gifts and sponsorships.

Given that our state universities have established this model of significant private funding for their expanding sports facilities, it seems odd that our local school board hasn't gotten the message and opened the discussion of its $8.4 million new gym proposal with a call for private donors and sponsorships. The Schaefer Dome? Prostrollo Arena? (We could triple the sponsorship value of the latter by changing the team name from the Bulldogs to the White Buffaloes.) Perhaps the big donors to the South Dakota Basketball Hall of Fame could strike a deal to raise half the funds for the new building in return for winning permanent display space for its memorabilia.

Madison's new gym is a luxury with little direct educational value. If the Madison Central School Board approves this luxury project, it should seek private donations to cover at least half of the $8.4 million price tag.
Update 22:35 CDT: In related news, Jeff Martin writes today's edition of that Sioux Falls paper about Mayor Mike Huether's plan to cover $15M to $24.5M of the $99.5M cost of his proposed events center with revenue from naming rights, premium seating, and other private donations. Let's assume the Sioux Falls market is a hundred times more valuable than the Madison market... we might still be able to swing $100K for naming rights?

I was also thinking about what we could do with $8.4 million dollars on other sites around town. We could renovate the Masonic Temple top to bottom and still have cash left to renovate every deteriorating storefront on Main Street. We could seal and stabilize every old building at Prairie Village and add a lakeside hotel and restaurant.

Or we could give $10,000 bonuses to 86 teachers every year for ten years.


  1. Michael Black10/10/2010 8:10 AM

    Many people called the Community Center unnecessary, but that facility and its programs have been a blessing to Madison and its citizens. It is too bad that more people don't use it even more.

    Like it or not, sports and wellness are a huge part of Madison's culture.

  2. Apples and oranges, Michael. Everyone has an opportunity to use the community center. The new gym is primarily for a few elite athletes to perform in front of hundreds of people sitting on their bums, with little general public use that can be compared to the community center. And we already have comparable facilities in the middle school and the field house.

    Alcohol is a huge part of our culture too. "Is" ≠ "ought".

  3. Actually, everyone does not have an opportunity to use the community center, but everyone does have an opportunity to use school facilities, regardless of income.

    The discussion of private funding for a portion of a new Competition Center only makes sense. It really needs to be a combination of several sources to be fair. The burden should not fall entirely on property taxes. That's why previous gyms were downsized, because the argument was, "Why build more than we actually need for Physical Education programs?" In other words, why burden taxpayers with more than what they actually need just to get by.

    Sources for some of the funding of the gym portion may include the Madison Booster Club in a long-term commitment, exploring grants through East River Electric, Sioux Valley Electric, GOED, Federal Grants for infrastructure, plus sponsorship revenue and naming rights. There are approximately 6000 MHS Alumni, some of which are financially successful and might step up with a million or so. Madison Central School Education Foundation may be able to help facilitate that effort.

    Adding an extra penny city sales tax or getting in-kind labor and equipment use from Lake County, perhaps a bed and booze tax, and increasing admission fees and family passes would help lessen the property tax burden.

    I disagree that it would be "primarily for a few elite athletes". The Madison gymnastics team has squeezed itself into the Middle School Gym to the point that events are dangerous if an athlete loses control of their routine. Boy's basketball crowds require installation of temporary metal bleachers under the north basket which are lethally dangerous if someone ever runs into those unprotected aluminum corners and spectators.

    I really believe a large facility will enhance Madison's events, not just school events, but all community and Chamber events.

  4. "Competition Center"—is that the official euphemism for "new gym"?

    I disagree with your analysis of the analogy, Rod. The Community Center is more available to general public use than the new gym would be. Regular citizens have more direct access to the Community Center amenities than they would to the new gym. Will folks be able to walk in Bud Postma's office, pay a daily fee, and go play ball in the new gym at their leisure? Or use the wrestling room and locker rooms and showers?

    Extra penny sales tax -- no, there you go again, putting on taxpayers backs. Let's see the private boosters pony up their chunk first. How high can the fans go before government has to ride to their rescue and make up the balance? How much can the Chamber members raise to advance their business interests in this facility?

  5. Why doesn't the school system just rent space per use in the community center? The few times I've been there the courts were only in partial use.

  6. Michael Black10/10/2010 9:27 PM

    The Community Center courts are for community use not just for school age kids. The double gym sees plenty of action during certain times of the day. It saddens me that many members of the Community Center do not take full advantage of the facility. I'd love to see Rod up there every week.

  7. I have never used the Community Center, Mike. Why should that make you sad? I'm happy, I'm active... do I (or any other residents) have some moral obligation to use the facility?

    What should really make us sad is that we would even consider directing more money toward a new sports facility than we plan to spend upgrading the actual educational facility.

  8. For $16 Million, couldn't we simply build a brand new High School and Competition Center? Bidding for projects has been extremely competitive in today's construction market. Bond rates are at their lowest ever.

    A substantial portion of the new construction in the remodeling plan appears to be the Media Center added to the front of the current HS building, which replaces the current libraries in the MS and HS.

    Cory, I like the idea of an extra penny sales tax because we get a broader base of money. Travelers, visitors, competitors and vacationers all spend dollars in our community and it lessens the lopsided burden that 100% property tax increases would have on elderly, ag producers and also commercial buildings which have the highest tax rates already.

    You're right about one thing, though. Make sure Randy is on the fund raising committee. Where Randy goes, money flows.

  9. Rod, I haven't priced institution-sized real estate, but yes, I think we could get a heck of a lot of new building for $16M, even though board president Niedert says the economics aren't there for building new. In 2007, Harrisburg floated a $30M bond issue to build a new HS and elem. and renovate the existing HS into a middle school. About three years ago, SF Lincoln added a 2000-seat gym for $2M.

    Logistically, building a new HS would make for an easier transition: instead of having classes in makeshift spaces while we tear apart and rebuild the current HS, we keep the kids in their usual classrooms until the new building is done, then move in to the new building and overhaul or bulldoze the old to make way for the new gym (if that's what we really need). School first, gym second.

    And if we get around to that gym, how about the "Goeman Competition Center"?

    Extra penny... how about an extra nickel on concessions at games?

  10. And Tony, yes, it seems we have plenty of options short of spending millions on a new gym.

  11. Ha, Ha...I don't think they'd provide naming rights without big cash. Unless I win the lottery don't hold your breath, and since I don't buy lottery tickets, it won't happen. Even if I had the loot, I'd request they name it after a prominent community leader or sports figure from the past. Perhaps one of our former local leaders or business people who had a positive impact on our youth. There's a survey subject for you, Cory. What should we name the new Competition Center?

  12. Is the new gym honestly being name Competition Center?? I can think of a lot of euphenisms here. Let's see, "a wolf in sheep's clothing," "a rose (or gym) by any other name is still a rose (or gym)," etc. Meaning here what something IS is what's real, not what's is called.

    Why not devote as much time and energy to bringing new jobs and businesses to Madison, which in turn would generate more revenue, people, and tax base in the city. Then think about renovating the high school and building a new gym.

    Why does the whole remodeling thing have to be a "domino effect" anyway? Why not tackle the few things that really need fixing instead of starting on one end and not being able to stop until the dominoes have all fallen and the price has skyrocketed?

    The last time this idea was floated of a new gym, it was touted as a financial boon for Madison that would improve the economy etc, yet the city didn't feel the need to ante up any of the money for this. Has the city now changed its mind on this?

    And as for the fact that either a new gym or the community center is more open to the public, this is immaterial. They are both open for those who want to use them or can pay to use them. The thing is that the financial burden of paying for each does not fall only on those who can or choose to use them. I don't think people mind paying some for an item that brings good to the city; but I know that people do not like being forced to pay thousands of extra dollars yearly to pay for something they will not use. And that is what the plan was with the last gym proposal. Even one of the main promoters would have paid nothing in taxes toward it!

  13. Build it DOWNTOWN!

    I look at a 10, probably closer to 12 million dollar project under consideration, and we're talking about placing it behind the middle school. Up on the north side of town, where exactly who will see it, and what benefit will this sort of positive and progressive economic development have for our community?

    I'll state the obvious now. Really? Are you serious? Come again?

    This makes as much sense as the new tech-savvy SBS building behind a strip-mall. That's a loss for our community, a step-back, and yet another reason Madison doesn't seem to get this 'economic development thingy'.

    So folks, let's have some vision here, and let's redefine our dwindling downtown district with a huge local taxpayer stimulus, a new events center in the heart of downtown, where we could make the biggest economic splash for all of us.

    Just consider the amount of traffic, both traditional, and hopefully foot traffic with it's central location, and think all the business we could generate for all of these near vaccant businesses, especially at night, whereabouts the only business currently is 'on tap'. What a amazing opportunity to change the dynamic of our community, and shift the energy towards making Madison relevant.

    Yes indeed, let's get those partners, get the college, get the city, get Dwaine working on those grants, get the chamber humming too.

    Opportunity is more than just knocking here, it's beating down our door, and if we miss it, well, what's left of our downtown will be all but of memory.

    Start this conversation, NOW!

  14. Linda, tell your neighbors to get their petitions ready. Board meets tonight!

    Chris, for $16M, we could renovate the high school and build a nice visible convention facility downtown, don't you think?

  15. One idea that has been floated for an Events Center Gymnasium facility is to build it between John Deere and Rosebud, in the Industrial Park. Plenty of room for parking, high visibility, geo-thermal heat and cooling. It would also be easy to find for out-of-town spectators.

    The downside of that idea is that if we're building it to primarily be used by the school district for PE programs and events, perhaps it is better placed near the HS/MS facilities.

    I like the idea of a downtown event center to revitalize our core, but space and the cost of that space might be an issue. Maybe the former Wenk's Foods property?

  16. Bring on the questions good folks!

    Downtown is where we need to focus our energies, without a doubt, as there is so much already there to work with, and develop too, that it seems like a natural progression.

    Now, our industrial park is just that, an industrial park, not a thriving cultural hub, nor a good location for a convention/event/gym center. Not the least bit compatitable with this sort of economic planning, and honestly, a waste of valueable community resources too.

    Really, how's an address west of the tractors, and east of kitchen cabinets roll off your tongue? I'd rather say something like, 'our state of the art multi-purpose event center is located in the heart of our cherished historical downtown district, and near many fine dining establishments, entertainment and cultural venues, all within a walk of our whole community ' Nice, huh? Dwaine, I'm available anytime.

    Now, I can still hear the refrain of parking, and how many cars can downtown hold, and what about all the traffic too?

    First, parking is easy to address, let's look at our successful neighbors, ie Sioux Falls, and go with a parking garage. Done.

    Next, how's all that traffic gonna come downtown, and get out? Simple, multiple ways in and out, unlike our industrial park, and we got walking, biking, and all around proximity to our homes too. Easy.

    As so far as the school renovations, they need to be completed, that is not the question. However, the construction of a new facilty, that should be given much more than paragraph 16 in our local paper.

    I'm a firm believer in our downtown, as I've lead my orgainzation (Madison Area Arts Council) to not only invest into property, but programming too. Yet, without a signifcant and important change, which a 10 million dollar project could accomplish, many possible projects may never develop.

    I see an investment of this scope as a true catalyst, much like the new East River Building, or even Mochavinos too, which will make projects, like the restoration and practicality of the Masons, or even the former Dakota Drug too, become a reality.

    Without a so-called 'Big Dog' project, our downtown core will continue to decline, and I simply won't believe anyone who says otherwise, as this is a track record with history, and one which other communities continue to face and address.

    So, what's it gonna take to make this happen, downtown? (Here's a catchy slogan for us, 'Re-event Madison', facebook page waiting to happen)

  17. I have never posted here but I am a regular reader. I love the idea of building an event center downtown. Lets give downtown the boost it needs, it is the heart of our community. If the heart stops beating, the rest is sure to follow.

  18. Barb! Glad to hear from you! Do you see space downtown we can convert for that purpose? Would the old Wenks property mentioned by Rod be big enough?

  19. I don't for a second think that a downtown location will fly. The whole idea is to build a high school gym at the present school location, and throw in a high school renovation at the same time. Apparently the city doesn't have any money to even help with this; how will they build an events center? I don't see any rich donors stepping up to the plate for the high school gym, nor do I think they are being pursued. City sales tax increase, bed and booze tax, neither would come to pass IMO. The city wouldn't commit to any money for the last gym proposal, and that one was touted as being partly for economic development.

    What this actually boils down to is do you want to see much higher property taxes for the next X number of years? Because if approved that is where the money will be coming from.

  20. I don't know if the property is big enough but I think it would be worth looking into. Some brainstorm sessions would be fun to help solve the problem of our downtown. If we don't do something soon it could be too late. I am certainly not an expert but I am someone who has roots in this community.

  21. East of Egan10/12/2010 7:04 AM

    Let's have that session folks!

    We all know that we're going to have the increase in property taxes with the proposed facility, so let's at least invest OUR dollars into the community where they could have the biggest impact, which is DOWNTOWN.

    Let's get organized, and let's get our downtown growing! (A downtown walk-around might be a good starter)

  22. Winters are brutal. Would Madison support an indoor arboretum with lots of glass where people could sit in the sun when it's ten below outside?

  23. Sure, let's add it to the DOWNTOWN event center concept, along with an attached hotel too, and even a sculpture walk seems like a natural fit too. Just think how a lush green space, filled with light, maybe it's the central hallway corridor, would benefit the whole project.

    Session, here we come!

  24. Well, we just did the figures on a new school renovation/gym and what it would cost a farmer/rancher in this district, and it's about $250 extra per $100,000 valuation, based on the present cost estimate for 20 year bonds. Do your own math.

    of course, if it was built downtown as part of a city thing, then the city would have to pay for a great share of it, right? Maybe that's not such a bad idea after all!

    These ideas all sound nice as long as someone else is stuck with paying the majority of the cost.

  25. Cory, this is right up your alley.


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