South Dakota

Canaries, soccer rep share visions for new downtown district

SIOUX FALLS, SD (Dakota News Now) — Imagine — it’s a summer evening in downtown Sioux Falls. Have dinner and/or cocktails on a patio on Phillips Avenue or in the 8th and Railroad Districts, or just stroll around.

In the distance you can see the lights and maybe hear the roar of a crowd or the blare of speaker systems. And you say to your spouse or family or friends (or to yourself), “What the heck. Let’s see a game.”

It’s happening in countless cities across the country that have downtown baseball stadiums, and the Sioux Falls Canaries are preparing to make it happen after 51 years at their aging facility in the city’s Northwest in Sioux Falls — a park that many find charming, but with pipes and other basic elements falling apart.

In an interview with Dakota News Now on Wednesday, Canary Islands President Brian Jamros said the team was confident people would be drawn to a new stadium in the busy, ever-expanding downtown because “if it looks fresh and new , people want to be there and check it out.”

“Location is key,” Jamros said of a potential downtown park. “Now is the time.”

“You actually have to plan and create a goal now to go to a Canary Islands game. Not that it’s that far out of town. It’s not miles from town, but it’s outside of downtown, so someone must make a special trip.”

The Birds would happily take what they tout as family-friendly entertainment and stake their claim to the 10-acre property at the southwest corner of 10th and Cliff Streets, which a coalition of “community leaders” redesignated as the Riverline District was minted. who announced the purchase of this property on Tuesday.

Five decades ago, part of the same property was the old Howard Wood Field and another baseball park that housed earlier versions of the Canaries and other minor league teams, and Mayor Paul TenHaken spoke about this sporting event at the Riverline District press conference past Tuesday.

The Friends of the Riverline District Committee has launched a website that includes a poll asking the public for ideas on how the city could best use the land. The first question is, “If there were a sports stadium here, what sport do you think would be best suited to the Riverline District?”

Baseball is the first option. “Multi-Sport Turf Field (soccer, football, etc.)” is the second option, followed by “other”.

The second question is, “What amenities do you hope to see in the Riverline District?” A sports stadium is the first option, but others such as parking areas, event spaces, shopping, restaurants and bars, and an “Indoor Sports Rec-Flex” are offered.

Part of the city’s football community is ‘excited about this opportunity’.

“The most exciting thing about it is bringing families together,” said Leo Diaz, the director of Atlas Academy, a local nonprofit that helps underprivileged children. Many of the children the group serves come from the Whittier neighborhood, which is within walking distance of the future Riverline District site and where the “game of the world” is almost a way of life for the diverse population.

“We use football to motivate kids,” Diaz said. “We motivate kids, let them develop that character and excel in school.”

Diaz later added, “The Riverline District could be a symbol of opportunity for these kids,” and his organization wants community feedback, “so we can fulfill these dreams of these kids, so they have the same opportunities as other sports in the world.” Community”.

If there’s one thing the President of the Canary Islands and the Director of the Football Academy have in common, it’s that they want those 10 acres to be a multipurpose facility.

“At the end of the day, we can be so much bigger than baseball,” Jamros said. “I think there is a misunderstanding out there (about the Canary Islands and their vision of a downtown stadium). It’s not just about playing 50 games in the American Association… but ultimately, what can we do outside of baseball? What could we offer to the community of Sioux Falls that will make a difference eight, nine, ten months of the year, if not all of the year?”

When asked what the Birds are beyond baseball ideas for the space, Jamros Music and Other Entertainment Shows mentioned that he loves the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, but there’s nothing quite like an outdoor concert experience when the weather is warm.

He said the area around the stadium could be used for pickleball courts and/or an expansion of the on-site skateboard park when it’s warm (and the team is out of town). In winter maybe turn the stadium field into a public ice rink.

Diaz, who was interviewed by Dakota News Now after Tuesday’s news conference, said soccer fields aren’t the only thing he’d like to see in the country.

“I would love to see a multi-sport venue,” Diaz said. “So in that way it’s not focused on one sport, be it football or baseball, it’s all sports. Families can get together and have fun and enjoy the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful downtown where (there) might be an elite facility, a Midwest attraction we know that can boost the economy and attract more people from around the world Area.”

When asked in a text message from Dakota News Now on Wednesday to provide details for a multi-sport facility – specific sports (indoor and outdoor) – if a football/soccer stadium would be part of the vision, an Atlas Academy representative wrote back: “From now on it’s just planificación (planning) for really everything. Nothing is set in stone. We look forward to the community taking part in the survey and sharing their thoughts on possible developments.”

Asked by Dakota News Now on Wednesday if the Canary Islands would be willing to maybe turn their potential new stadium field into a football stadium as well, Jamros said:

“Right now we just want to have meaningful conversations. So, whether that’s with a soccer group or a group that wants to bring a big and more extravagant skate park or pickleball field — again, when these ideas come up and this committee starts collecting its data, I think where we are right now, we want it we’re just being part of the conversation and being able to talk about it, ‘Hey, would it work to work on this wouldn’t it? Is there a way to have this or that together?

Representatives from the Canary Islands were present at Tuesday’s media event but were not invited to join the 40-member Friends of the Riverland District Committee, which includes a city council member, a Sioux Falls School board member, Mayor Paul TenHaken and a bunch of include executives and representatives from some of the city’s largest companies.

Jamros said the Canary Islands would like to be represented on the committee, but a city official representing TenHaken told Dakota News Now that representatives from regional sports organizations were intentionally not invited to join the committee because “we don’t want an organization to do that call takes over.”

Diaz is a member of the committee, but the same city official told Dakota News Now that Diaz is there because of his commitment to children, not football. However, Monday’s media release listed Diaz as representing Atlas Academy, whose homepage states that the organization “is committed to providing all children from all backgrounds with opportunities to learn and develop good character through football”. .

Jamros said the Canaries and City have been in constant discussions about the team’s facilities as the team’s current facility, Sioux Falls Stadium, is owned by the City and that there have been talks between the team and city officials about “superficial ideas” about the possibility of one “Der Vogelkäfig” in the city center was part of the move.

True North Sports, LLC purchased the team in April 2021. Within a month, co-owners Brian Slipka and Anthony Albanese purchased a $500,000 Daktronics video board and $27,000 in gaming equipment. Ahead of the 2022 season, they bought an artificial playing surface worth about $700,000 for infield and foul territory, which the team manager said would help the Canaries become more competitive in recruiting better players.

All of these items could be transported to a new stadium, the owners said.

Jamros declined to say what kind of public-private partnership a new stadium at the Riverline District site would entail, adding a line he repeated several times in the interview.

“It’s just a brainstorming board right now, but like I said, our big thing is we just want to be a part of the conversation,” Jamros said.

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