Softball players could suffer with events center at arena site - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Softball players could suffer with events center at arena site

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Debate continues about the proposed Sioux Falls Events Center.

According to the economic impact analysis, the arena site is preferable to downtown, but one organization in particular has major concerns with the proposal for the arena site.

KSFY spoke with the President of the Youth Slow Pitch Softball Association Tuesday.  He's worried, because if an events center goes into the arena site, the way its planned could effectively destroy his organization.

McCart Fields by the arena are empty right now, but in a few months, about 1,200 kids will be running the bases.  "Besides keeping them off the streets, you know and having fun playing ball, it also keeps them physically fit with the exercise they get out here, " says Dennis Lower, President of the Sioux Falls Youth Slow Pitch Softball Association.  But, he says, an events center out here could hurt the 25-year-old tradition.  He says, "we're not against the events center, we're just against the parking plan mainly.  They want to take out half of our diamonds here and make it into a parking lot and that would totally cripple our organization."

That would leave about 900 ball players without a place to swing a bat, "it would displace quite a few of our kids," says Lower.

The association president says in the current plan, the city would not rebuild those diamonds and it's unlikely they can share space on other city fields.  He says, "they're already full and overflowing, so there really isn't much chance of us moving into some of those diamonds." And paying for new diamonds is kind of out of the question for Slow Pitch, it's not for profit.  Lower says, "to see the kids out here, to see the joy and stuff that they get out of playing, that's what's satisfying to all of our volunteers," joy that could be cut short if parking spaces replace home plate and bases.

Dennis Lower says the Slow Pitch Association has an e-mail campaign going right now to try to get the Mayor and city council members to alter the parking plan for the possible arena site.

As far as where the proposal for an events center goes from here, On Monday, May second the Mayor will announce which location he thinks is best.  From there he has to make a presentation to the City Council to explain how the events center at that chosen site will be paid for.  The City Council will then decide if it's something they want to move forward to a public vote.  If the council votes "yes," the public will get to vote on whether or not the city should borrow any necessary money for the center.

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