Civic Center Expansion considers Black Hills Stock Show as it undergoes changes |

Civic Center Expansion considers Black Hills Stock Show as it undergoes changes

Brenna Ramsden
for Tri-State Livestock News
The Black Hills Stock Show is a major event hosted by the Civic Center. Courtesy photo

After a much anticipated vote in Rapid City, the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center is undergoing an expansion and a few updates. While the completion date is not expected until the Fall of 2021, The Black Hills Stock Show is well considered during the early phase of this project and already looking at opportunities for growth.

The Civic Center will grow to the north west of its current footprint. The new space will have a seating capacity of about 12,500 seats and an area of about 33-thousand square feet according to Jim Hunt, a representative of the BHSS on the Civic Center Design Committee.

The first meeting of the design committee took place the first week of December. At the meeting, the committee met to discuss the location of the expansion and address what opportunities this expansion would hold.

For Hunt and Much Usera who represent the Black Hills Stock Show, the concern was the flow of traffic on the back end of the facility. They gave their opinions and observations on the flow of trailers, livestock and people who attend the Stock Show every winter. Hunt says they see congestion of trailers in the space behind the current facility already, and hopes to alleviate some of the pressure with the design of the expansion.

Creating committee groups was important according to Civic Center Executive Director, Craig Baltzer. Each committee includes different organizations who use the venue, bringing them in on the planning and design process to make sure it is user-friendly as well as discussing tweaks that would be needed to stay in budget. An interior design committee and specialists in foot traffic are also involved in the planning process to be sure the expansion will be highly functional when there are many people in the facility.

Hunt described the expansion as such that it will connect with the existing Don Barnett Arena and the Civic Center Ice Arena creating a flow between all three venues. He sees the new space as an opportunity to grow, as the BHSS is already using every inch of the Civic Center grounds. Hunt says the existing arena has the potential to be used as a warm up arena, a previewing area during sales like the South Dakota Quarter Horse Sale, or even an expanded space for trade show vendors.

“They have a great team,” said Hunt of the Rushmore Civic Center, “It is going to be interesting and fun to see this progress.”

Black Hills Stock Show General Manager, Ron Jeffries says the Stock Show already brings 18-22 million dollars of economic impact to Rapid City. He believes the expansion will help the Stock Show grow even more in size and events.

“The reason you expand is to grow,” said Jeffries, “What we have to do is identify those factors that would help the Stock Show grow.”

For the 2018 Stock Show, Jeffries says somewhere around 250 thousand people are expected to visit Rapid City for the Stock Show. With a 33-thousand square foot expansion, opportunities for growth become endless. Although the talk of a new arena space seems new and exciting, Jeffries and Hunt are both sure the existing Barnett Arena would be efficiently used as well.

During the construction phase of the expansion, the Barnett Arena will see some updates as well. Changes and updates to handicap accessibility in the existing area are the biggest needs to optimize all 6,750 seats in the house.

One question that is on everyone’s mind is ‘where will we park?’ The expansion will cut out about 200 parking spaces as of the blueprint now. Hunt says it has been a part of the discussion in the early meetings, and there are a few options. Solutions such as shuttles and outsourcing parking from other locations have been discussed.

Baltzer says a parking garage is out of the budget at this time, and it wouldn’t be used efficiently while building more plat parking spaces is ‘a waste of real estate and money.’ Baltzer estimates that only 25-30 times a year is the existing Civic Center parking lot completely full.

“We just have to change people’s minds about how to travel and how to get there,” said Hunt.

Beyond the BHSS, Baltzer says the Civic Center is excited for the opportunities to host bigger country music shows, larger entertainment events like monster trucks, and expand the already big events like the Stock Show and the Lakota Nation Invitational.

“A new arena on the property we already have will allow us to work more efficiently,” said Baltzer.

Baltzer encourages the community to be excited for the expanded space and the opportunity it can bring. The new space will put Rapid City in competition with Sioux Falls, SD and Billings, MT when it comes to booking concerts and events. Baltzer says it will drive Economic Impact to the community as well. While the process may seem slow to the locals, he reminded that any construction process takes time.

Groundbreaking is expected to take place this Spring according to Baltzer, and all events will carry on as usual until the expansion is finished.

“It will be the same event you are used to attending,” said Baltzer, “There might just be extra machinery sitting in the parking lot.”

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