- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Residents of Pierre have soundly rejected a proposed $14.5 million recreation and event center.

Unofficial returns from Tuesday’s election showed nearly 58 percent of the 6,500 voters opposed the idea.

“We, as a City Commission, decided we wanted this to be a community decision, so we completely respect that,” said Mayor Laurie Gill, who had promoted the project as a way to boost economic development in the capital city.

Opponents believed the center was not the best use of city money, and that the city should focus instead on keeping utility rates low and streets in good condition.

“I don’t think that we have the draw to bring in events that would make (the facility) profitable,” resident Hannah Carda told the Capital Journal (https://bit.ly/2eTVjnJ ).

The 57,000-square-foot center would have seated 4,000 people and would have been similar to the 40,000-square-foot Swiftel Center in Brookings. It was to open in early 2019, replacing the old City Auditorium that was closed in 2010 due to structural issues and demolished in 2014.

The auditorium hosted a variety of events including sports and governor inaugurations. The new facility was designed for a number of activities, including basketball games and concerts.

City officials worked on the event center idea for three years, investing about $50,000 in the effort, according to Gill. Local developers Mark and Glennis Zarecky donated 16 acres of land for an event center a year ago. Other options for the land will be explored, the mayor said.

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