With 18 additional fields and a large structure, the Sanford Sports Complex looks to the future – SiouxFalls.Business | Directory Mayhem

October 13, 2022

Sioux Falls not long ago provided a perfect day for the inaugural softball tournament to be played at The Diamonds, the newly completed 18-field addition to the Sanford Sports Complex.

And while the S&C Sioux Falls Showcase brought a target event to the fields, about 200 kids had also participated in fall baseball there since September.

“It was really fun hearing the kids’ comments,” said Steve Young, President of Sanford Sports. “They’re definitely enjoying the place.”

Home to baseball, softball and soccer, the turf fields provide the Sanford Sports Complex with more year-round play opportunities when the weather isn’t as kind as it has been this fall.

“It gives you the opportunity to play games in the offseason and spring and fall where the city hasn’t had the opportunity before,” Young said, adding that calls for events are “continuous” as news of the fields spread .

“For the events team out here, it’s trying to put this events calendar puzzle together of what that’s going to look like, but there’s a lot of interest,” he said. “Some regional, inside the city and some outside, so there’s a lot of interest from groups coming here to play on those fields.”

At 170 hectares, the new fields encompass much of the wider 500-acre sports complex. There is also a section reserved for future fields.

Both the fields and Sanford’s Virtual Care Center, which recently broke ground on the west side of the complex on Westport Avenue’s west side, were funded with more than $650 million in donations from philanthropist T. Denny Sanford.

Dakota State University’s future cyber campus occupies the site south of the Sanford Virtual Care Center. A new Comfort Inn & Suites adjacent to the Blue Rock Bar & Grill is under construction and scheduled to open next year.

“In the North, we’re having conversations with a variety of people, whether it’s more hotels, residential, mixed-use, office, retail, light retail, quick-service restaurants,” Young said. “And the rest is really north of Great Shots along Westport and then all west of the facilities you see today — the Pentagon, Match Pointe, the IcePlex.”

All of these institutions have considered or are planning some form of growth. Even the Pentagon, with its 3,250-seat arena and nine basketball courts, is sharing space in two of its core sports, volleyball and basketball, “and they’re growing like crazy,” said Jesse Smith, vice president of operations at Sanford Sports Complex.

“We have an internal struggle with finding the time and space to get their work done and our events team is trying to host events.”

The facility also continues to diversify its program. A live MMA event taking place Friday night will be shown on virtual reality platform Meta Horizon Worlds, where fans can enter a virtual environment and see and speak to other fans while enjoying VR views of the action.

But virtual reality isn’t enough to accommodate everyone who wants to go to the Pentagon. There is enough land to expand the complex. There is also sustained demand at the Sanford Fieldhouse.

“I think we’ll grow as the city keeps growing,” Young said. “The opportunities for children will continue to grow. I think there is a need for more indoor grass and eventually more space on the pitch.”

Sanford continues to hear calls for more dining and coffee options at the complex, he added.

“We take that to heart,” he said. “We have to be very purposeful, but every decision we make, whether it’s about internal projects or the partners we invite onto campus, has to fit our focus, which is to create an environment that brings the two together doing things.”

These improve community well-being and opportunities for people to participate in sports and sporting events, and provide opportunities for aspiring athletes to transform themselves—whether forming a varsity high school team or becoming a professional athlete.

“It just feels like there’s another surge of momentum out here,” Smith said. “It’s a great time right now and feels like another shot of energy pushing forward.”

With the new fields, Sanford expects more than 1 million new visitors to the complex over the next five years.

“You’re amazing,” Young said. “When you drive by here today compared to 2.5 years ago you see quite a transformation and it was definitely a lot of fun to watch. I see a lot of hope and opportunity.”

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