- Associated Press - Saturday, July 5, 2014

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Civic Center officials in Rapid City are preparing to show the City Council their final plans for a $180 million expansion that would double the size of the Barnett Arena.

The Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Board of Directors voted to approve the final design plans at a meeting Thursday, according to The Rapid City Journals (http://bit.ly/1vLeGzY ), and organizers will go before the full City Council on Monday night to formally present the plans and lay out potential funding options. The council will decide whether to approve plans at a later date.

The final design would expand seating from 9,400 to 19,000 in the center’s Barnett Arena and would make the arena large enough to house an indoor football field. A new multilevel parking garage would have room for 1,000 vehicles, though construction would eliminate 500 existing parking spaces.

“I feel so good about this,” said board member Donna Winkler. “I really do.”

Civic Center officials have pitched the $180 million expansion as a necessary upgrade of the Barnett Arena that they say is now more than 30 years old and has $70 million worth of issues that are partially related to staying compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Officials say replacing the arena with a state-of-the-art facility is a better long-term investment than just fixing its current problems.

To pay for the expansion, the city would likely have to draw heavily over the next several years from its Vision Fund, a pool of city money reserved for community projects that’s funded through a half-cent sales tax in Rapid City. Each year, roughly $10 million is generated for the Vision Fund.

In 2014, Rapid City’s entire budget was $153 million.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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