Market Analysis for Riverline District Supports 2050 Vision

Published on July 09, 2024

The City of Sioux Falls released the “Convention Center Review and Market Analysis” for the Riverline District today during the City Council Informational. Several representatives from Johnson Consulting, based out of Chicago, IL, compiled the study and presented it to the City Council. This is part of a comprehensive and phased approach to analyzing the feasibility of developing a new convention center at the Riverline District at Tenth Street and Cliff Avenue.

In 2023, Johnson Consulting was retained by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation and the Friends of the Riverline District to perform a “Highest and Best Use Analysis and Economic Impact Study” for the Riverline District. This report was released in early 2024 in tandem with the February announcement of a visionary plan for the community from the Friends of the Riverline District and the City of Sioux Falls. This 2050 vision includes the development of a modern and appropriately sized convention center and repurposing the existing Sioux Falls Convention Center into a flexible public indoor recreation and event space, which will help fill the community’s stated demand for this type of indoor facility.

The “Convention Center Review and Market Analysis” by Johnson Consulting shows that Sioux Falls would support a newer and larger convention center at the Riverline District and that it’s a feasible development at that location from a market standpoint.

“Downtown Sioux Falls is growing toward Tenth Street and Cliff Avenue, so it’s important we are strategic in the steps we take now to maximize the potential of the Riverline District,” said Mayor Paul TenHaken. “This market analysis is part of our due diligence with the Riverline District to ensure this visionary plan emphasizes the well-being of our community and economic vitality for Sioux Falls.”

The “Convention Center Review and Market Analysis” was conducted concurrently with an analysis by Williams Architects of ways to repurpose the existing convention center. This study is being finalized and considers what could be realistic for the current convention center space. When the time comes for the final design, the City of Sioux Falls will ask the community exactly what they want to experience in the existing convention center, whether it’s an indoor playground area, basketball courts, indoor walking track, volleyball courts, turf, or other activities they would like to see.

The feasibility report from Johnson Consulting aims to answer four main questions:

·       How is the existing Sioux Falls Convention Center operating today, and what are the implications regarding opportunity for a new facility?

·       What can a review of industry trends and case studies tell us about Sioux Falls’ opportunity for a downtown convention center?

·       What is a market-supportable program for a new convention center in the Riverline District?

·       What would a preliminary demand strategy for that facility look like?

Johnson Consulting performed an existing conditions assessment, case studies analysis, and industry trends review to shape the recommendations in the study. The existing conditions assessment looked at the performance of the Sioux Falls Convention Center today, which includes event demand, attendance, how the space is used, and financial performance. Johnson Consulting gathered data from the Sioux Falls Convention Center as well as responses from a statistically-valid survey to current clients. A separate survey was conducted to analyze reasons for lost business at the convention center.

Johnson Consulting’s report shows a strong event demand at the Sioux Falls Convention Center in recent years. Event organizers generally enjoy the space, but a significant weakness is the current conference center’s proximity to tourism, leisure, entertainment, or recreational opportunities. Some of the reasons the Sioux Falls Convention Center lost business in recent years is due to the space being too small and the schedule of the convention center being full.

“Johnson Consulting is validating what Experience Sioux Falls hears over and over again from current and prospective clients—our convention center is too small, it’s not walkable to dining and retail experiences, and another full-service hotel is needed to support the convention center,” said Teri Schmidt, CEO of Experience Sioux Falls. “We look forward to continuing to partner with the City of Sioux Falls and Friends of the Riverline District to see this project transform our community physically and economically.”

Case studies from the feasibility study examined the Grand Wayne Convention Center in the heart of Fort Wayne, IN, DeVos Place Convention Center in downtown Grand Rapids, MI, and the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines, IA.

“We continue to see the potential positive impacts the investment of the Riverline District will not only have on the area directly at Tenth Street and Cliff Avenue but also for businesses downtown and throughout the community,” said Lynne Keller Forbes, co-chair of Friends of the Riverline District. “We are taking a multi-faceted approach to this project to continue the momentum of this bold vision for our community.”

Since the market analysis shows the Sioux Falls market could support a newer, more modern, and larger convention center in the Riverline District’s location, the next step in the analysis process is to consider a business plan and finance strategies for such a facility. The draft report from Johnson Consulting can be found at


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