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Sixth site for events center considered

A sixth site is being considered for a proposed events center in Mitchell, and the events center task force is still waiting for three new building designs from three different firms.

A sixth site is being considered for a proposed events center in Mitchell, and the events center task force is still waiting for three new building designs from three different firms.

Task force member Ken Tracy, who also is president of the City Council, said Tuesday that the new site under consideration is a 25-acre parcel of undeveloped land owned by the city and located just west of Mitchell Middle School, south of the Cadwell Sports Complex softball fields.

Tracy said the site was added recently to an existing list of five other potential sites: the block immediately north of the Corn Palace, the block directly south of the Corn Palace, the former Econofoods property, an undeveloped site west of Cabela's, and an undeveloped site along the west side of the state Route 37 bypass. The city owns some of the property in the block south of the Corn Palace, but the other sites are privately owned.

The task force is gathering estimates of the costs associated with all the sites. Tracy said negotiations with landowners have not begun, and he declined to release any numbers.

"Are there significant and clear savings in one site that just stands out far and above any of the others? Not really," Tracy said.

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The Econofoods property is listed for sale on the Internet for $1.575 million. The west bypass property has been offered to the city by developer Chuck Mauszycki, in exchange for the city doing about $400,000 worth of street and drainage work in the development where the site is located.

Meanwhile, the task force is still waiting for building designs from HOK Sport of Kansas City, the locally based Puetz Corporation and Sioux Falls-based Fiegen Construction. All three have been asked to design an arena with about 7,000 seats and enough floor space to host the state pool and dart tournaments, which reportedly require 50,000 square feet.

The city already has paid HOK $55,000 for its design of the 7,092-seat, $25 million arena that the task force proposed to the City Council in March. Since then, the task force has asked HOK to design a smaller version of the arena with about the same number of seats, but with less floor space and an annex that could provide additional floor space at a lower cost.

The City Council has authorized spending $5,000 for the Fiegen design, which is expected to have mostly retractable seats and 60,000 square feet of floor space. The task force also plans to ask the City Council for $5,000 to pay Puetz, which is working on a new design after submitting an earlier plan that included retractable seating on a main floor and an upper mezzanine.

The task force is hoping all three designs will come with cost estimates lower than $25 million. Tracy said he hopes the designs will be submitted by June, which is when the task force hopes to present a report on the designs and site possibilities to the City Council. Tracy said the size of the proposed buildings will have some bearing on the choosing of a site.

"When we get closer to selecting a plan, then we'll have a better idea on all of the sites as to whether or not they fit," Tracy said. "And maybe some of the sites will be eliminated by the fact that their size would not allow the structure to be built on it."

The task force's meetings are closed to the media and public. The City Council will conduct a public events center discussion at its next regular meeting on Monday.

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