Canaries, soccer rep share visions for new downtown district

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. You dine and/or have cocktails on a terrace on Phillips Avenue or the 8th and Railroad District, or take a walk.

In the distance you can see the lights and maybe hear the sounds of a roaring crowd or a screaming speaker system. And you say to your spouse, your family or your friends (or to yourself): “What is this? Let’s go see a game.

It’s happening in countless cities across the country where there are downtown ballparks, and the Sioux Falls Canaries are gearing up to make it happen after 51 years at their aging facility on the northwest side of town. – a park that many consider lovely, but with pipes and other fundamentals falling apart.

In a Wednesday interview with Dakota News Now, Canaries president Brian Jamros said the team is confident people will gravitate to a new stadium in the ever-expanding bustling downtown because, “if it has the Looks fresh and new, people want to be involved and check it out.

“Location is key,” Jamros said of a possible downtown park. “It’s time.”

“You have to actually plan and create a destination to go to a Canaries game right now. Not that it’s that far from town. It’s not miles from town, but it’s outside the downtown, and so someone has to make a special trip.

The Birds would like to take advantage of what they tout as family entertainment and lay claim to the 10 acres of property at the southwest corner of 10th and Cliff streets that have been newly created as the Riverline District by a coalition of “leaders communities” who announced the purchase of this land on Tuesday.

Five decades ago, part of this same property housed 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 past at the Riverline District press conference on Tuesday.

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

Baseball is the first option. “Grass multi-sport pitch (soccer, football, etc.)” is the second option, followed by “other”.

The second question asks, “What amenities do you hope to see in the Riverline District?” A sports stadium is the first option, but others like a park, event space, shops, restaurants and bars, and an “indoor sports reflex” are offered.

A sector of the city’s football community is “thrilled with this opportunity”.

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

“We use football as a way to motivate kids,” Diaz said. “We motivate children, make them build that character and excel in school.”

Diaz later added, “The Riverline District could be a beacon of opportunity for these kids,” and that his organization wants community feedback “so we can make those dreams come true that these kids have, so they can have the same opportunities as others sport in the community.

If there’s one thing the president of the Canaries and the director of the football academy have in common, it’s that they want these 10 acres to be a multi-purpose facility.

“At the end of the day, we can be so much bigger than baseball,” Jamros said. “I think there’s a misconception that might be there (about the Canaries and their view of the city center stadium). It’s not fair, hey, playing 50 games in the American Conference… but in the end, what can you do outside of baseball? What could we offer the community of Sioux Falls that has an impact eight, nine, ten months a year, if not all year round? »

Asked about the Birds’ ideas beyond baseball for space, Jamros mentioned music and other entertainment shows, that he loves the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, but there’s no such thing as 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 addition to the on-site skateboard park when it’s hot (and the team is out of town). In the winter, perhaps turn the stadium grounds into a public ice rink.

Diaz, interviewed by Dakota News Now after Tuesday’s presser, said football fields aren’t the only things he would like to see on the field.

“I would love to see a multi-sport venue,” Diaz said. “So that way it’s not focused on one sport, whether it’s soccer or baseball, but all sports. Families can get together and have fun and take the opportunity to enjoy a nice downtown, where (there) could be an elite facility, an attraction for the Midwest, as we know it, that can spice up the economy and attract more people from all over the world. region.”

Asked in a text message by Dakota News Now on Wednesday to provide details of a multi-sport facility – specific sports (indoor and outdoor), if a football/soccer stadium would be part of the vision, an Atlas Academy representative replied, “From now on, it’s just planning (planning) for everything that really is. There is nothing in the stone. We’d love to hear the community participate in the survey and share their thoughts on potential developments. »

Asked by Dakota News Now on Wednesday if the Canaries would also be open to turning their potential new stadium into a football pitch, Jamros said:

“Right now, we just want to have a meaningful conversation. So whether it’s with a football group, or a group that wants to bring in a bigger, more extravagant skate park, or a pickleball court – again, as these ideas start to surface, and this committee starts to collect his data, I think that’s where we’re at right now, do we just want to be part of the conversation and be able to talk about, ‘hey, would it work to collaborate on that or would it not work not ? Is there a possibility of having this or that together?

Representatives from the Canary Islands were at Tuesday’s media event but were not invited to join the 40-person ‘Friends of the District of Riverland’ committee, which includes a member of the city council, a member of the Sioux Falls School Board, Mayor Paul TenHaken, and a group of executives and representatives from some of the city’s largest corporations.

Jamros said the Canaries would like to be represented on the committee, but a city official representing TenHaken told Dakota News Now that representatives of sports organizations in the area were intentionally not invited to join the committee because “we we don’t want one organization to take over the conversation”. .”

Diaz is on the committee, but that same city official told Dakota News Now that Diaz is there because of his involvement with children, not the sport of football. However, in Monday’s press release, Diaz was listed as a representative of Atlas Academy, whose website homepage says the organization is “dedicated to providing all children from diverse backgrounds an opportunity to learn and develop good character through football”.

Jamros said the Canaries and the City have constant conversations about team facilities because the team’s current facility, Sioux Falls Stadium, is owned by the City, and there have been “surface idea” conversations between team and city officials about the possibility of moving “The Birdcage” to downtown.

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 card and $27,000 worth of playground equipment. 2022 season, they bought an artificial playing surface for around $700,000 for the infield and foul territory, which the team manager said would help the Canaries become more competitive by bringing in better players .

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

Jamros wouldn’t say what kind of public-private partnership a new stadium on 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 part of the conversation,” Jamros said.

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