The city of Sturgis and Harley-Davidson have broken ground on a new public plaza named after the motorcycle company, the result of a private-public partnership that further solidifies the company's long-time presence in South Dakota's motorcycle mecca.
Officials from the city and the company formally unveiled plans Wednesday for the Harley-Davidson Rally Point, which the company to have completed by this year's 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which is expected to attract more than 1 million people.
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"Harley-Davidson riders have really helped define what the Sturgis motorcycle rally is over the last 75 years and part of our new partnership is another 75 years of working with the city of Sturgis," company spokesman Joe Piehl said.
Along with the plaza, the city will also rename Second Street as Harley-Davidson Way.
The 11,000-square-foot project, which will replace an existing parking lot, is meant to serve as a hub for riders during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and also to revitalize a downtown district that often struggles to attract patrons when the motorcycle rally isn't in town.
The project will include a stage and officials hope it will be used for other things like concerts, weddings and a farmer's markets.
Not everybody in town thinks a plaza is the best way to revitalize downtown Sturgis. Bob Davis, who has been a Sturgis business owner since the 1970s, said the funding going into the new plaza would be better used to promote downtown businesses.
"What Sturgis needs are businesses that fill up these empty storefronts," he said. "We don't need a meeting place for farmers' markets."