Simplified: Both the Washington Pavilion and the Denny Sanford Premier Center saw record years in 2023, according to updates shared with the Sioux Falls City Council this week. And, with their 25-year and 10-year anniversaries, respectively, coming up, both venues have some big plans.

Why it matters

  • Both venues are owned by the city but managed by private companies. ASM Global manages the Premier Center, Convention Center and Sioux Falls Arena, and Washington Pavilion Management, Inc. oversees the Pavilion as well as the Orpheum Theater.
  • For ASM Global, the Premier Center saw a record profit in 2023 at $2.78 million. The company also saw both an increase in the number of folks coming to events and an increase in the amount each person is spending at those events, according to General Manager Mike Krewson.
  • Meanwhile, as the Pavilion prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary this summer, it's recognizing a year of records in 2023, including record high museum attendance, membership sales and a new all-time best-selling Broadway show, "Aladdin," which brought in about $1 million, President and CEO Darrin Smith said.
  • Both Smith and Krewson teased big announcements to come. Smith noted plans for a $400,000 public art installation that he described as being on the scale of the Arc of Dreams, and Smith hinted at a big announcement coming Monday about a performance celebrating the Premier Center's 10th anniversary.
"This will be an event unlike almost any other ... we are going to be the smallest market that this person has played in, and it's going to be fantastic," Krewson said, noting that it's not Garth Brooks or Taylor Swift.

Tell me more about the Events Center complex

Here are some of the highlights from 2023:

  • The Premier Center saw a total attendance of more than 680,000 people.
  • The center also hosted 21 concerts, and is on pace to do the same in 2024, Krewson said.

Industry-wide, the trend for musicians is to do fewer shows on tour, and focus on arenas. It's a trend that's not good news for the Premier Center, but Krewson said the facility has rebounded more quickly than others post-pandemic.

"We make sure (artists) know when they come to Sioux Falls, they're going to have an exceptional time," he said.

Tell me more about the Washington Pavilion

Here are some of the highlights from 2023:

  • The Pavilion broke an all-time record for Broadway subscription sales with just under 4,000 subscribers, Smith said.
  • The organization also spent $500,000 to renovate and reopen the now-named "WP Cafe."
  • Additionally, the pavilion acquired Parlour Ice Cream for about $100,000, Smith said, and built it into the science center concessions area.

On the business side, Washington Pavilion Management, Inc. also launched a new ticketing website and a new art consulting business.

What happens next?

As for 2024, the Pavilion has big plans for celebrating its 25th anniversary on June 1 (and throughout the entire year).

Those celebrations will include:

  • Performances from Bill Nye the Science Guy and Broadway star Sutton Foster,
  • A published book capturing the Pavilion's history,
  • A $400,000, privately funded, interactive outdoor art installation,
  • And celebrations including live music and a beer garden.

The new year will also bring a new retail store for the Pavilion, which will be located in the Steel District.

The Premier Center also has some big plans for celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. It's expected we'll get more details on that Monday.

  • But beyond the big concert, there are also more than a dozen new events coming to the events center campus this year, including a woodcrafts expo and a speed Rubix cube event.