For $33 million, Sioux Falls taxpayers could have a more comfortable and intimate sports complex for watching high school track and football.
But the potential to host more ambitious events, such as University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University football games, is what's driving up the projected cost of a new Howard Wood Field.
A design Koch Hazard architects unveiled Wednesday contains luxury suites, a press box, fieldhouse with four locker rooms and separate fields for football and track.
School board members say they don't need a new Howard Wood, but they'll be happy to build it to make room for a new city events center - as long as someone else pays for the upgrade.
The board has committed to spending no more than $6.3 million, which is what it had set aside to renovate the 50-year-old Howard Wood. If an events center doesn't get built, neither will a new high school football and track venue.
The school board's position puts the onus on the city and Sports Authority to find the money for what a consultant estimated will be a $120 million to $200 million project.
The events center task force will meet Tuesday. Members hope to bring a proposal to the City Council by the end of November. If the council approves it, the city will ask state lawmakers for permission to collect a 1-cent sales tax for the project. The city then would need a favorable public vote in November 2010 before starting construction the next spring.
School board members Wednesday said they're willing to scale down plans for a new Howard Wood. The architects' renderings show "what utopia would look like" for the groups that use the field, Superintendent Pam Homan said.
The track stadium would hold a crowd of 4,500 with room for another 3,500 on portable bleachers. The adjacent football stadium would have 12,200 seats with room to grow to 20,000.
Sports Authority Executive Director Mike Sullivan said the field would need to hold at least 20,000 spectators to give his group a shot at bringing NCAA Division I football games to Sioux Falls, and luxury suites would help raise revenue from those games.
"They'd need to make more money playing here than they could at home," he said.
Koch Hazard's design clearly would be an upgrade from the school district's perspective as well, Sullivan said. Having four locker rooms instead of two, for example, would make holding back-to-back football games seamless.
"There's no question that they need new facilities," Sullivan said. "Suites obviously are something that the Sports Authority needs more than the school system, but it'd be nice for them, too."
The school district's renovation plans for Howard Wood are limited to track and grandstand repairs. Some board members have said they'd prefer a new stadium but not necessarily one with so many amenities.
Board member Doug Morrison said the new field concept is more than what the school district needs.
"I know it would be completely different if it was a facility constructed just for our use," he said.
At a May school board meeting, the anticipated cost of rebuilding Howard Wood was put at $21 million to $25 million. The latest plan is $27.9 million plus $5.3 million for road and sewer infrastructure leading to the site near Westport Avenue and Benson Road.
It might be more than the school district needs, Homan said, but the board needs to think bigger.
"This is about trying to find that magical blend between the high schools' needs and the broader needs of the community," she said.
Reach Josh Verges at 331-2335.