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The Tyson Events Center

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Those who support the Sioux Falls Events Center idea often say we need one here because all the good shows go to Sioux City.

And it may be the biggest competitor for Sioux Falls, if voters say yes next Tuesday.

Traveling through Sioux City, is nearly impossible to miss the Tyson Events Center.

Located adjacent to I-29, it is one of the most visible signature features the city has.

It's doors first opened in 2003.

It has 10,000 seats and it owned by the city of Sioux City.

And this man was one of the driving forces behind it. "It made our downtown a viable, vibrant opportunity not only for those in Sioux City but for attracting opportunity in the region." Craig Berenstein is a former mayor of Sioux City and he saw the Tyson Events Center project through...from conception to construction to it's opening day.

And he says if he had it to do over again today....knowing what he knows...he would do it. "It triggered additional opportunity with restaurants, hotels, other entertainment venues and just an exponential impact."

Berenstein was a big supporter of the project and says he did face some criticism and tough questions from residents.

Their events center plan did not go to a public vote; instead, it was decided on the city level.

And Berenstein says the success at Tyson is proof that the right decisions were made.

"Reba McIntire will be here this month; we have the NAIA volleyball national tournament and Lady Antebellum will be coming up in December." Aran Rush is the executive director at the Tyson Events Center and he is a popular guy in Sioux City. "Whenever people know where I work, they always tell me what show they want to see."

Rush has a history of managing venues that host big events and he says he always feels a sense of caution when he hears about a city Sioux Falls..that is thinking about building a new events center. "Just because you build something bigger doesn't mean you're going to get more shows. You gotta buy tickets. Its all about selling tickets."

Rush cautions, building something shiny and new doesn't necessarily mean a city will automatically get big acts to come and play.

He says he has seen several cities build a new events center and it is hot for the first year...but after that, the going gets tough.

Rush says instead of building a new events center, he would advise the city of Sioux Falls to create an entertainment endowment fund...say 10 million dollars...and use the money to entice big acts to play Sioux Falls....but at the existing Arena. "I think people sometimes underestimate what they already have. There are a lot of great things happening in Sioux Falls."

But then consider this from former Sioux City mayor Craig Berenstein...the mayor who helped lead the effort to build the Tyson Events Center. "When we looked at the project, the issue of what was available within our core market was relevant." Berenstein says when the Tyson was on the drawing board, they drew a 100 mile circle around Sioux City to see what the potential competition would be....and determined they would be able to draw people from the Sioux Falls area...because there was nothing in Sioux Falls similar to the Tyson Events Center.

And Berenstein tells me, what really helped clear the way for the Tyson Events Center.....the state of Iowa paid for 40% of it. "This was about a 50-51 million dollar project and about 20-22 million dollars of this project was state funds." At the time the Tyson Events Center plan was conceived, the state of Iowa was doling out millions to cities who could show the money would change their communities for the better.

The state of the city of Sioux City...agreed that the Tyson Events Center would be a game changer for the city and helped revitalize it's downtown area...which Berenstein did.

Again, the state of Iowa paid 40% of the cost of the Tyson Events Center.

I asked former mayor Craig Berenstein if he thinks the city would have built their events center if they had to finance 100% of the cost.

He says "yes"...he adds it would have been riskier but he also says sometimes to get big rewards, you have to take big risks.

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