Corn Palace Lives On

Mitchell, S.D., is going to have to wait a little longer for an alternative venue to the Corn Palace.

Mitchell voters rejected construction of a new sports and events arena September 18th by voting against a measure that would increase property taxes, which would in turn help fund a $25 million, 7,100-seat facility.

Proponents vow they will fight on, and organizer Jodie Cain-Lambert said her group will continue to back the current design and location but will propose a new funding source. Cain-Lambert declined to say what that source will be.

Former Mayor Alice Claggert appointed a task force in 2005 to study the feasibility of expanding the 3,250-capacity Corn Palace or building a new venue, according to the city’s Daily Republic newspaper. Expansion was ruled out early on because, among other reasons, it would temporarily close the Corn Palace.

Rod Pattison, one of the proponents for an alternative, told the paper 19th-century visionaries built the Corn Palace and it’s time for a vision for the new millennium.

"If it was possible for the vote to involve people living in a 50-mile radius of Mitchell, the vote would have passed 90 percent to 10 percent – that’s how many people want this project," he said.

The Corn Palace, which has been in the city since 1892, is an iconic part of the South Dakotan roadside landscape, much like Wall Drug and the forever under-construction Crazy Horse Memorial.

The entire exterior of the building is covered with murals and designs made from corn and other grains. The Corn Palace has hosted acts from Lawrence Welk to Eddie Money.