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Rapid City voters overwhelmingly approve $130 million arena

June 6, 2018

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Rapid City voters have approved a measure to build a $130 million arena to replace the aging Barnett Arena.

Nearly two-thirds of the approximately 17,000 voters in Tuesday’s election approved the project. The vote, prompted by a citizen petition drive, came three years after residents rejected a $180 million new arena proposal.

Had the less-costly replacement plan failed, the city would have renovated the existing arena for up to $28 million to bring it into compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Rapid City is nearly 10 months behind a deadline the U.S. Department of Justice ordered for getting the Barnett Arena into compliance with ADA access guidelines.

Mayor Steve Allender has been pushing to build a new arena instead of renovating the old one, facing opposition from four of the city’s former mayors.

The City Council approved in February issuing up to $110 million in sales tax bonds and lease certificates of participation to fund construction of a new arena. Rapid City has also saved about $25 million for a down payment on the new arena.

Construction costs are estimated at $130 million, but the project carries a total price tag of $182 million including interest.

The city hopes to break ground on the new arena next spring and have it completed in about two years, Allender said.

He said after the election results were announced, “This is a statement tonight about who Rapid City wants to be in the future and that’s the type of Rapid City I want to work for.”

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