By Shannon Marvel
After years of planning and fundraising, major renovations to the Sitting Bull Stampede rodeo grounds in Mobridge are ready to begin.
Thanks to community fundraisers, the first phase of a $2.4 million project will start in spring, said Darrell Schlepp, president of the Mobridge Rodeo Foundation.
“It’s been in the back of everyone’s mind for quite some time. The existing grandstand has definitely served its purpose. We also have some major drainage issues we’ve dealt with, so that’s all part of this first phase, too,” Schlepp said.
The first phase will include:
• Replacing the grandstand.
• Refurbishing the roof over the grandstand to correct drainage problems.
• A new retaining wall and fence in front of the grandstand.
• New lighting and sound systems.
• A new tent pad.
• New bleachers by the bucking chutes that aren’t part of the grandstand.
It’s hoped that much of that work will be done before the annual Sitting Bull Stampede rodeo, which is every July 2, 3 and 4.
But Michele Harrison, treasurer of the rodeo foundation, knows not everything can be done before then. The new grandstand bleachers will likely go in after the rodeo, with that work to be done before next winter, she said.
She said the goal is to have both phases done before the Sitting Bull Stampede’s 75th anniversary in 2020.
“In addition to that grandstand, we want to completely replace the restrooms, concession stands, ticket booth area and develop more of a courtyard-type atmosphere,” Schlepp said, referring to the second phase.
“The rodeo has been socking away a little bit of money every year in hopes of renovating our grandstands because they’re so old. Just in the last probably three years we’ve really ramped up our efforts and done a lot of fundraising. It got a little bigger than just the grandstand,” Harrison said.
Now, she said, all of the rain from the grandstand roof runs into the arena.
“The main goal was just the grandstands … “ Harrison said. “Then we looked up at the lights and some of our light bulbs aren’t going to be useful for many years, then we looked at our audio systems and our concession stands and bathrooms. We just said if we’re going to do this, let’s do this right.”
Schlepp said the foundation has enough money to cover the first phase. Ciavarella Design Architects of Aberdeen has created a design for the project, he said.
Harrison said the project’s scope grew after the foundation realized the potential for the grounds to host more than just the Sitting Bull Stampede.
“We are planning on building this beautiful courtyard, and we would like to be able to have reunions there or company picnics or maybe weddings, even, there because it’ll have grass and trees. The arena will be used for so many events. We’d love to start up a high school rodeo team again. We have barrel racing and ropings going on in there,” she said.
“We could have concerts in there very easily once we get it all done,” Harrison said.
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Donations can be sent to the Mobridge Rodeo Association; P.O. Box 952; Mobridge, SD 57601.