Rapid City to build 19,000-seat arena, thinks it will bring Taylor Swift concerts, is sadly deluded

The Rapid City, South Dakota city council has voted to build a $180 million, 19,000-seat arena, to be entirely funded with local sales tax money, though there may yet be a public referendum on it, and — I’m sorry, I can’t get past Rapid City, South Dakota is building a 19,000-seat arena. And apparently some locals can’t either:

A financial plan for the proposed new arena has drawn some skepticism because it calls for the city luring two new sports franchises to the arena, and attracting concerts by top-flight acts like Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake.

I guess the sports teams would be minor-league hockey and basketball, maybe? Paying for it with “top-flight acts” is going to be difficult, though, not just because Paul McCartney only swings by individual cities at best every few years, but because Paul McCartney is going to be 75 years old before this thing can get built. I guess there’s always the occasional new arena-scale concert draw, but I seriously doubt the Foo Fighters are going to play Rapid City that often, either.

But here, don’t take it from me, take it from a guy who actually works in the concert industry:

A sparse population base, low area income and the high ticket prices that draw top-rate entertainment would block the success of a new arena here, predicted an independent consultant on concert promotion and touring.

“I would look at the ticket prices. McCartney is just expensive as hell,” Richard Barnet, president of the Association for Concert Industry Education, said. “Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney — I think God borrows money from those two.”…

“I just would be skeptical of the population. Can you get about 10 percent of the population to a concert?” Barnet said. “That’s a big chunk of your population base, and if you’re going to do several concerts a year, that is a whole bunch.”

Barnet said this in Sunday’s Rapid City Journal. The Rapid City council voted 7-3 to approve the arena plan on Monday. People, man.