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Plans in motion for new Watertown ice arena

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 6:40 PM CDT
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WATERTOWN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The vision for a new ice arena in Watertown is finally becoming a reality, and it’s found it’s home on an undeveloped lot on the east side of the city.

The Watertown City Council in it’s meeting last Monday passed both a measure to purchase the land for the arena, as well as pass a $20 million sales tax revenue bond for costs. Because the measure passed is a sales tax revenue bond, residents will not see any changes to their property taxes. City Manager Amanda Mack said the timing couldn’t be better to start the project.

“The land is available, interest rates are low for bonding. Our sales tax revenue is very healthy. We’ve seen substantial increases in our revenue there. So we feel very comfortable long-term.” said Mack,.

The land purchased is just north of the intersection of 9th Ave SE and Willow Creek Dr. It’s an undeveloped part of town that with the new arena could grow quickly.

“It’s an undeveloped area of Watertown. The interstate exposure, reasonable interstate access, with the hotel, the proposed hotel.” said Watertown Development Company Executive Director Mike Vaux.

City organizations are already preparing for the visitors the arena will bring. Watertown Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Katherine Danforth said a marketing push will be made to get as many visitors to the city before the arena even opens, to hook in more people to the city.

“This is going to be huge for Watertown, northeast South Dakota in general. Having people from all over the country to play on our ice is very exciting.” said Danforth.

Mack said there’s been a big push of support from the community to turn the idea of the ice arena into reality, and said there’s already many who are looking to support the project financially.

“It’s a big project. But there are numerous community supporters. Even people who, frankly don’t care that much about ice or care that much about hockey, but just really want to see this happen for the community. Which is very beneficial.” said Mack.

Mack said the city hopes to have building materials ordered by the end of October, and plan a groundbreaking ceremony for next spring.

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