February 2016 – Civic Center Resolution Task Force
After becoming mayor, Allender took time to familiarize himself with the issue. In February 2016, he appointed the Civic Center Resolution Task Force: (information provided by the Rapid City Journal):
- Rick Kahler, financial planner
- Everett Hoyt, former COO and board member at Black Hills Corp.
- David Ploof, business teacher at Rapid City Central High School
- Kevin Andreson, chief operating officer of a $450 million food-ingredient company
- Matthew Huether, financial consultant with Thrivent Financial
- Mark Joneson, owner of Financial Consultants in Rapid City
- Dr. John Spangler, served as pediatric cardiologist at Black Hills Pediatrics, former professor of pediatrics at University of South Dakota School of Medicine
- Rodney Pettigrew, business owner and operator
- Tim Raben, executive with the Hartford Insurance Group
- Robert "Bob" Weyrich, agriculture development specialist for the state
In choosing members for the task force, Mayor Allender stated that he searched for candidates without a vested interest in the Civic Center and who had not taken sides in the previous discussion. In late April 2016, they called for a new study of the ADA issues in the Barnett Arena.
Summer 2017 – Renovate or Replace?
Following the conclusion of the Civic Center Resolution Task Force, Mayor Allender reviewed its reports. In the summer of 2017, he started holding public presentations laying out two plans for the Civic Center. The first plan would cover bringing the Barnett Arena up to code by fixing outstanding ADA issues. The cost would be around $25 million. The second plan would leave the Barnett Arena alone and build a new facility at a cost of approximately $130 million—or nearly 2/3 of the cost of estimated under Mayor Kooiker's proposal. Allender had stated that constructing a new arena was his preference and had used the public presentations to explain and convince people that the changes are needed. One major reason, also cited under the arena expansion, was that the Barnett Arena is not capable of holding many touring music shows.
Although it opened with an Elvis Presley performance in 1977, Elvis only brought a single truck, while a modern show may have a dozen. The Barnett Arena has a height of 53 feet, far short of the expected 75 to 80 feet required by a modern show to display sponsor banners or other decorations. A new facility would allow these acts to perform in Rapid City, drawing in crowds and sales tax dollars.
With either plan, costs would be paid from the Vision Fund. In 2017, $18 million had been set aside for the work. Total costs and financing for a new building would come in around $180 million over 30 years. The $6 million in annual costs represented half of the Vision Fund each year. The Barnett Arena would remain open during construction to continue hosting events such as the Black Hills Stock Show and the Lakota Nation Invitational.
February 2018 – Council Votes to Approve Arena
On February 26, 2018, the Rapid City Council voted to move forward with a plan to construct a new arena instead of updating the existing Barnett Arena. The decision was made on a 9-1 vote. The council's support via resolution supported up to $110 million in sales tax revenue bonds and lease certificates to fund construction of the new arena. In 2018, the city had approximately $25 million in reserve for an initial payment toward construction.
June 2018 – Citizens Vote “Yes” for New Arena
Shortly after the city council issued a decision regarding the arena, a citizen group began collecting signatures to refer the issue to Rapid City voters. The Rapid City finance office verified 2,376 signatures in support of referring the issue to a public vote. Five percent, or 2,095 votes, were required to place the issue on the ballot.
At a Rapid City Council meeting on March 26th, 2018, the council voted to approve the setting of the special election on June 5, 2018. Several other elections at the local, state, and federal levels were also slated for June 5. A "yes" vote on the June 5 ballot would allow the city to begin plans for building a new arena, while a "no" vote green-lit rehabilitation efforts at the Barnett Arena. With almost 2/3rds of voters approving, the plan for new construction went forward.
November 2019 – The Monument
On November 16, 2019, groundbreaking took place at the site of the new arena. Monument Health acquired naming rights for the next ten years, renaming the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center “The Monument.” A public vote took place in late 2020 and the new arena was named Summit Arena in January 2021. In October of 2021, the new Summit Arena opened to the public. The 250,000 square foot arena has seating for more than 11,000, and can support bigger acts and events.