Dated infrastructure reinforces discussion on Civic Center Arena - KOTA Territory News

Dated infrastructure reinforces discussion on Civic Center Arena improvements

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If you have an old car - say 40 years old - there is no way to add seat belts and air bags. If you have an old house, you probably have asbestos, lead paint and no air conditioning.  Likewise, if you have an old arena like the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, you have unique problems that need to be fixed.

You may have noticed lately, a lot of events coming to Rapid City are using the smaller ice arena.  The event producers are sacrificing ticket sales for power and lighting needs and layout:  Miranda Lambert, JakeO, Rascall Flatts, Blake Shelton, The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum, even the SDSU Wyoming game.
 
One of the first things you notice when you enter the Don Barnett arena is the buzz; it is from the old lights.  They take a long time to warm up, unlike modern facility lights that events now demand.  If you look up, you will also see a retro-fit, now 10 years old, to hold the more modern, heavier lights for concerts.  According to Jeff Bailie, Civic Center Board Chairman, it is already insufficient given concerns about load capacity of the original roof.
 
The color scheme - orange and yellow is also indicative of the age of this facility. The Civic Center staff says the heating and ventilation and air condition - the HVAC room - is grossly inadequate to handle the needs of the facility.  Storage is also a problem. For example, the basketball floor and curtains is squeezed into the HVAC room.
 
The information technology room, which no one dreamed of in the 1970's, has become increasingly critical for today's day events. The Civic Center has a category one cable, which is obsolete compared to category five or six which is now available with fiber optics. The plan is to continue to use the dated facility while adding on to the west, toward Central High School.
 
"So we can utilize existing structure and add on to gain greater efficiencies in our operations, expanding our footprint in this facility," Bailie said. "Much like folks in the 1972 didn't know the types of events we would be hosting these days, we're now building something, not for the next ten years,  We're looking twenty, thirty, even forty years down the road as to what would be best suited for the citizens of Rapid City," added Bailie.

The Civic Center Board and the Rapid City Council say it is essential the community participates in this discussion.  Only 15 people showed up at the last meeting.  June 26 is the next meeting at the Civic Center. They are also at Summer Nights every Thursday with the mock-ups and plans. 

You can fill-out a card with your thoughts and concerns.  Wednesday, we look into the competitive reasons for the arena expansion and the preliminaryprice tagg.

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