Corn Palace Stampede seeks measure to halt Horsemen's Sports from holding possible Mitchell replacement rodeo

·5 min read

May 25—MITCHELL — The post-verdict battle between Corn Palace Stampede and landlord Horsemen's Sports Inc., is continuing with CPS alleging that HSI is trying to hold a July rodeo on the same dates that CPS planned to do so until it canceled earlier this month.

On May 18, CPS submitted a court filing asking for an injunction against HSI to bar the landlord from holding a rodeo or "any other competition or spectator events or in any way interfering with (CPS) property awarded by the jury for a period of 150 days."

It also asks that HSI be barred from using the names or marketing events as the "Corn Palace Stampede," Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo," "Corn Palace Rodeo," "Stampede Rodeo" or "Mitchell Rodeo," or any other name that would suggest it is affiliated with Corn Palace Stampede or any other rodeo-type event traditionally held in Mitchell. The injunction request also seeks to bar HSI from soliciting sponsorship from any rodeo events from CPS sponsors.

In an affidavit, CPS Board President Jim Miskimins said, "HSI is attempting to hold itself out as the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo, and to use CPS' property to hold a rodeo in lieu of the rodeo they caused CPS to cancel."

"Those negotiations failed due to HSI's grossly unreasonable terms," he wrote. "CPS has explored other options for holding the 2023 rodeo, but none are tenable given the time constraints and the logistical challenges with moving our bleachers and other property from HSI's rodeo grounds. The cost to rent materials and equipment necessary to hold the rodeo at another location is estimated to exceed $100,000."

In another affidavit, Jimmie Nicolaus, who has been a CPS member for more than 30 years, wrote that he was contacted by a friend who said his son was contacted about being the rodeo announcer for an event on the third weekend in July. Nicolaus said the same friend was contacted about judging a Mitchell rodeo, as well.

"I am concerned that, given HSI's history of damaging CPS' property, that the items the jury awarded CPS will be damaged by HSI if it holds a rodeo," Nicolaus wrote.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for June 9.

Earlier in the month, CPS asked for an injunction of 150 days to allow it to remove its property from the Horsemen's grounds. In response to the second injunction request, HSI attorney Tim Whalen called it "more specious than the first," and called the 150-day move request a "ransom maneuver."

"The conduct (CPS) seeks to prohibit on the part of HSI has never been plead or litigated in any respect and is completely new," he wrote. "Moreover, the actions (CPS) seeks to prohibit as to HSI have never been threatened, mentioned or otherwise asserted by HSI. The action to be restrained by an injunction cannot be speculative or imagined."

Whalen argued the ball is in CPS' court once again, especially since the lease between the two is terminated in court and CPS has been awarded monetary damages and received its share of property on the grounds.

"The parties are now able to go their separate ways. (CPS), however, continues to seek to tie itself to HSI. If (CPS) does not want HSI to use its property, the solution is simple — remove the property from HSI's land," he wrote.

Whalen also argued that HSI already had the ability to use the property for its rodeo events and the previous lease didn't give CPS exclusive use or control over the property, and that the court can't create new rights for CPS that would further restrict HSI's use of the property.

"The idea that (CPS) can restrict the use of names associated with the city of Mitchell, the well-known Corn Palace or the term 'rodeo' in any regard is exceptionally arrogant and completely unsupported by any facts herein or the law. ... Moreover, there are no non-compete or non-use agreements between the parties to this action. ... "HSI still has the right under the law to use its property as it sees fit," Whalen wrote.

Whalen also charged that CPS can't bar HSI from reaching business agreements with CPS' past sponsors because of the same lack of non-compete agreements.

"The Plaintiff's audacity in this regard is unbelievable," he wrote. "The Plaintiff has no relationship with any business or entity which is exclusive.

In court in April, HSI President Brandon Neuegauer testified that HSI was interested in holding more rodeo events on the grounds in the future and has been approached by youth, high school and the South Dakota Rodeo Association circuits, along with a bull-riding specific event. He said HSI would be using the entire facility in those cases.

In the April case, a jury ruled that CPS can take major elements of the rodeo grounds with them to a new facility, plus award $100,000 to CPS in damages after ruling HSI breached the contract with CPS. The lawsuit was spurred in 2020 when HSI members moved fencing and tore out CPS-built VIP platforms as part of the arena expansion. CPS then accused HSI of breaching the lease agreement and argued the improvements it paid for were personal property and could be moved to a new location near the Mitchell Regional Airport.

CPS announced on May 8 that it was canceling the rodeo, but will still have the traditional Saturday morning parade and the Sunday kids fun day and chili cook-off at the new location near the airport on the weekend of July 15-16.

The Horsemen's Sports Arena, located on State Highway 37 near Lake Mitchell, is the only site the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo has ever been located, dating back to 1971. Since the start of the dispute, Corn Palace Stampede has created another organization — the Mitchell Rodeo Foundation — and agreed to a lease in 2021 to use 20 acres of land near the airport for future rodeos.