RAPID CITY, SD (CelebrityAccess) — Voters in Rapid City voted overwhelming on Tuesday to approve a new, $130 million arena for the city.
“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,” Mayor Steve Allender following the vote, according to the Rapid City Journal. “I’m proud of the community. I’m proud of everyone who worked on this. All the work that I’ve done has been worth it.”
The vote comes after the Rapid City Council approved in February the issuance of up to $110 million in sales tax bonds and lease certificates of participation to fund the arena construction. The referendum offered Rapid City residents the opportunity to support the council’s decision for the new arena, or to vote against the sales tax bond, which would have initiated efforts to renovate the city’s existing Barnett Arena, the Journal reported.
According to the Journal, more than 17,000 citizens cast a vote, with almost 11,000 voting in the affirmative. The vote was a rapid turnaround from a similar referendum in 2015 which would have approved the construction of a $180 million-plus arena plan.
Some residents still had issues with the arena proposal, including former Rapid City Mayor Alan Hanks, who led a campaign called “Fix the Proposal.” Hanks took issue with a number of aspects of the new arena plan, including lack of a guaranteed long-term tenant, the absence of a parking plan, and the use of funds from the city’s ‘vision fund’ the Journal said.
The referendum was the result of a push by Citizens for Liberty, a Tea Party-affiliated group that advocates for “limited government” and against “irresponsible tax and spend policies.” Just days before the referendum, the Journal reported that Rapid City’s school system had endured a 6% cut to its capital outlay, leaving the city’s schools strapped for building maintenance.