Meade School Board nixes Rally rental plan

Lance Scherer, the Sponsorship Development Coordinator for the city of Sturgis, speaks at the Meade School Board meeting Monday about leasing school property for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Pioneer photo by Deb Holland

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UNION CENTER — The Meade School District has passed on pocketing $30,000 for leasing school property during the 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The Meade School Board Monday voted down a proposal to lease property through the city for $30,000 from Aug. 3-Aug. 19, 2020. Board members Charlie Wheeler and Courtney Mack voted in favor of the lease agreement. Members JT Vig, Cody Weber, Tracy Konst, Lee Spring, Joe Urbaniak and John Nachtigall voted against the lease. Board member Dennis Chowen did not vote.

The city had wanted to lease property at the high school to accommodate additional exhibitors for the 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  

Lance Scherer, the sponsorship development coordinator for the city of Sturgis, told the board those being considered as vendors are Honda, Kawasaki, BMW and Ducati.

“What we are after is a location where we can have OEMs who typically don’t feel comfortable at the Rally or don’t feel part of the Rally, but want to be here. They just want a chance to show their products,” he said. 

Scherer said the city was approached by several of the motorcycle manufacturers and believed the high school parking lot would be a good fit. 

The vendors most likely would set up at the south end of the high school parking lot near the high school’s digital sign and close to Highway 34 – a main thoroughfare during the Rally. Vendor hours would be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Urbaniak said the district has leased the property in the past, but he has concerns about leasing this time.

“I’m not for it,” he said. 

If the board wants to rent out the high school parking lot, then a committee should be formed and the district should have oversight over the transaction, Urbaniak said.

Konst agreed saying he didn’t think it was appropriate to have the city oversee rally vendor leases at the high school.

“I’d hate to give away control of that to a third party,” he said. 

Currently, the high school hosts a biker breakfast during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and also offers showers to Rally-goers. The school district’s income from the endeavor averages about $10,000.

“With the breakfast and showers, we’re in control of that. We shut it down when it gets shut down. We open it when we want it open,” Konst said.

Mack said she has faith in the city to manage the property appropriately.

“We have an empty parking lot where we can make $30,000 by doing nothing and consuming nobody’s time as far as our administrators,” she said. 

The time period covered under the contract the district was considering Monday was from Aug. 3-19, 2020. Sturgis Brown High School Principal Pete Wilson said students would be on campus during those times as athletic teams start their fall practices.

“My concern is that if they (vendors) are going to set up, we would have to tell our kids that they would have two weeks of not being around the school,” he said.

Wilson worries that there are too many unknown factors to the vendor lease agreement.

“If we have the vendors in there, who is going to watch the school at night?” he said.

Scherer said there would be security at the site all night during the lease period.

Wheeler said he realizes that other board members have concerns.

“I don’t think any of us want to put kids in danger or anything like that,” he said. 

But if the concern is students intermingling with bikers, that is an everyday occurrence for anyone in Sturgis during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

“One way or the other, to get out to the high school they are having to go through all kinds of traffic,” he said.

Anyone who lives in or around Sturgis is certainly inconvenienced by the Rally, Wheeler said.

“Everybody tries to make their nickel off the Rally. We have the opportunity to make some money on the Rally and we are just going to pass it by,” he said.

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