ORANGE CITY—A private group of investors is seeking to build a Sioux County event center.
“This event center has been four years in the making,” said Dave Winterfeld of rural Sioux Center, who is one of the investors, to the Sioux County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, Jan 2. “It’s a dream of mine, and those too who are backing this project, to have a space that’s not just for one town but for all of Sioux County.”
The group is seeking federal, state and county funding as well as support from private investors for the estimated $8.5 million project. It has about 65 percent of the funding pledged.
The group seeks to construct the event center at the intersection of Highway 75 and 360th Street two miles north of Sioux Center.
On that site, located just north of Dordt College’s new Agriculture Stewardship Center, the group wants to build about a 166,000-square-foot event center made up of a 68-by-279-foot front building, 309-by-288-foot arena and 380-by-148-foot barn.
Winterfeld said the front building would house office space, an open area that can hold up to 125 people for a small gathering such as a wedding reception or conference and an area dedicated providing education in various ways to youth and adults.
The arena would be ideal events such as cutting, roping and barrel racing with horses as well as trade shows, livestock expos, industrial equipment shows, mini go-kart races and remote-control car racing, Winterfeld said.
The 380-by-148-foot barn will have space for more than 300 horse stalls.
“The entire Sioux County fair could fit into this facility,” Winterfeld said. “It’s part of the reason we’re being pretty aggressive. As you know the fairgrounds has been given its marching orders, so what do with that and other things people are looking to bring to the county? What can we do to keep the young generation interested and around? What can we do to have a space for everyone in the county to gather, that’s not just labeled as one city? This can do that.”
Winterfeld said he’s encouraged the Sioux County fair board and the Sioux County Saddle Club to consider using this facility for their events as well.
“We’re looking to approach every city in Sioux County to share this project,” Winterfeld said, noting the events center is just a part of the dream the investors have for the potential 101-acre property.
Part of that dream includes building a 1900s’ type of community setting, Winterfeld said.
“We’d like to ask each town to set up a building in this street setting so that each part of the county is represented,” he said. “Each community can have a piece so together we can show the history of the county.”
He said the goal is to have events on site at least 46 weeks of the year with about 24 of them being horse shows.
While the search for a manager and maintenance person is already underway, Winterfeld said Dordt is on board with incorporating students to help run the facility as part of its educational offerings.
No racetrack is part of the future plans for the potential events center site.
“This is all part of the dream for this land,” Winterfeld said. “There are still a lot of pieces at play but it’s my main dream to have a place that can represent Sioux County, its history and its people and be a place that supports the economy of the county.”
He asked the supervisors to consider a three-year tax abatement for the land and then a graduated abatement by 16 to 17 percent for the remaining years for a total of 10 years support.
“I’m favorably disposed to this idea because of what it could bring to the county,” said chairman Mark Sybesma of rural Hull. “Others might ask for the same thing, but I think we could justify our reasoning to support this project because of the tourism it could bring, but we need to think about this.”
Winterfeld asked if the board could make that decision within three months. The supervisors verbally agreed to do so.
The goal is to open the events center by spring of 2020.
“It’s aggressive but we need to be aggressive to keep the momentum going to meet the needs of the county and county events,” Winterfeld said.