In Sioux Falls, there's no question, we like our sports.
"Sioux Falls is becoming a big sports town in the midwest." says SF Sports Authority Director Wes Hall.
With construction progressing on the Denny Sanford Premier Center, and the recent opening of the Sanford Pentagon, it's made Sports Authority Executive Director Wes Hall a busy man.
"We put bids in for 19 NCAA sporting events, anywhere from men's and women's basketball, Division I and Division II, down to volleyball and wrestling, along with track and field." says Hall
Hall recently found out that Sioux Falls is finalist to host NCAA Division II national championships in five sports. One of those, a possible combined Elite Eight in both men's and women's basketball, which would be at the Pentagon.
"We hope that they choose us, we've had conversations with the NCAA, and they've been very impressed with the faciltiy." says Sanford Sports Complex General Manager Eric Larsen.
"These bids are new because the city has never hosted anything like this before, so even if we get one, that will be great. After talking with the NCAA and the questions that they have asked, I think they are impressed with us." says Hall.
The Arena has been a successful host of the division one Summit League basketball tournaments for the past five years. While that will continue in the new events center, Sioux Falls was not chosen as a finalist to host a DI Women's NCAA Tournament regional, but they'll keep trying.
"To see Sioux Falls name, when they put up the brackets for the women's NCAA Tourament on that Monday, that's the most national exposure we'll get." says Hall.
Another event that brings in the crowds, are state tournaments. In 2015, the Premier Center will host a combined Class AA boys and girls state basketball tournaments. Area leaders hope that's the beginning of other possible combined state tourneys, like Class A and B wrestling at the same time.
"That's how it is in many states, they put the state tournaments in their biggest city, in their best venue. Right now it is the philosphy of the Activities Association to spread the tournaments around to different towns, everyone takes their turn. But hopefully when the events center opens, and people see the great facility that it is, that philosphy will change." says Sioux Falls Schools Activities Director Mark Meile.
Another component is youth sports., the Pentagon has nine basketball courts, and is the main part of the Sanford Sports Complex which has junior football fields and the fieldhouse. They recently broke ground on a three sheet of ice hockey facility, and an indoor tennis facility is in the plans...the kids will come.
"That's really the bread and butter for us, our Power academies and all of the youth tournaments." says Larsen.
"What we've found is even during the recession, parents will still get little Johnny to his tournament, regardless of how tight things are in the household...and the city can build on that." says Hall.
It all adds up to a bright sporting future, but can Sioux Falls support it all.
"We were recently voted a top ten minor league town, if you see the attendance of the Summit League Tournament, the attendance for our area universities, you see we are good at putting people in the seats, so absolutely we can." says Hall.
"We want to become a destination, and not just sports, but eventually more retail and hotels and restauants will come, we'll see that over the next number of years." says Larsen.