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November 30, 2011 09:50 PM

Skyforce Move Took Arena Officials By Surprise

Sioux Falls, SD

News of the Skyforce move took Sioux Falls Arena management by surprise. But they are looking at the silver lining of losing the long-time tenant.

The Skyforce is one of three steady tenants at the Arena. General Manager Terry Torkildson said he heard about the team's decision to pull out in a phone call.  But the move does allow more open dates, which could mean more flexibility for events the Arena has turned away in the past.

"They've been a great partner for over 20 years. We still have the utmost respect for them and Sanford. This is a choice they made and we'll work around it," Torkildson said. 

According to the arena manager, the team has not come forward yet to negotiate early termination of its lease. That agreement runs through the 2014 season, one year after the Skyforce plans to move into the new Sanford facility.

"There's been some speculation. You've heard rumors around town that Sanford was going to build this project and the Skyforce might move," Torkildson said. 

Spectators cheer on the team from the seats during 24 home games each year. Those are Fridays and Saturdays when Torkildson said the arena can't schedule other events.

"Dates here have always been a problem for both the arena and convention center, especially during that season when the Skyforce plays," Torkildson said. "We're constantly turning things away."

So, if there is a silver lining, Torkildson says that is it more room for more banquets, small concerts and trade shows, especially on the heels of a new 12,000 seat neighbor scheduled to be finished just as the team pulls out. 

"We just see it as a natural fit. We're here to help the city and move things forward," Torkildson said.

The team's decision to leave should not affect projections for the events center at all because the Skyforce never intended to move into that building. The Storm and Stampede do plan to play there. Torkildson says at least one tenant, the Roller Dollz, would like more Arena availability.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A misspelling was corrected in this story.



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