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A Hardwood Hurrah!

March 5, 2014, 10:04 PM by Don Jorgensen

A Hardwood Hurrah!

This weekend will mark the end of an era for the Sioux Falls Arena.

For the past five years, the Arena has hosted the Summit League Conference Championships. But next year, the Division One basketball tournament will make the move to the new Denny Sanford Premier Center.

Basketball! A game of emotion. A game of transition. Now, the time has come for the Summit League Tournament to transition to a new facility. 

As players and coaches prepare to play for the last time at the aging Sioux Falls Arena, they're reflecting on the facility that hosted some great tournaments over the past five years. 

"In terms of atmosphere, the old arena had as good as any just because you were right there, people felt like they were involved in the game," SDSU women's basketball coach Aaron Johnston said.

Make no mistake, the Sioux Falls Arena, although 53 years old, provided lifelong memories for players who laid it on the line every time they took the court.

"Well I've had awesome experiences there, winning the past four years, it's a very special place, something you'll always remember," SDSU Senior Tara Heiser said.

For SDSU men's basketball coach Scott Nagy, the Arena will forever be engrained in his memory.

"SDSU's first NCAA tournament, coming out of that place and that's probably the best of all, probably will be. We are looking forward to going to the new place, but certainly the arena has been good to us," Nagy said.

The Arena had undergone a half million dollars in renovations in order to host the area's biggest basketball spectacle.

"The city came forward and allowed us to renovate our locker rooms, added additional official locker rooms, so we could have both men's and women's official locker rooms. Literally emptied the store rooms and turned them into press rooms, interview rooms and hospitality spaces, so it's been a lot of work, but definitely worth it," SMG General Manager Terry Torkildson said.

But the memories of the Summit League Tournament haven't all been good. In fact Torkildson recalls some embarrassing times.

"The one year when the old center hung scoreboard dying a slow death and the horn went off and wouldn't stop," Torkildson said.

"Right in the middle of an ESPN broadcast, so we had to quickly fix that problem and one time the lights went out, it was a system where the relay went bad, because it was old, a $5 part caused a 15 minute delay," Torkildson said.

As players, coaches and staff reflect on the arena hardwood, they look forward to the future of a new a new facility. 

"Just the amenities, not that we lead a high lifestyle, but the old arena was in desperate need of restrooms and concessions, those are the things it didn't offer anymore," Johnston said.

"The arena has shown its age, so there are going to be a lot of things like locker rooms and things like that that will make it feel more big time, but I think doubling the fan support in there could be the biggest thing," Nagy said.

Fans who will get to see the Summit League Tournament one last time in the old and outdated Sioux Falls Arena before moving the hype to the new Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.

"When we move next door, it will elevate it to a level I don't think anyone realizes yet," Torkildson said.

Next year, the Sioux Falls Arena will become the home for the Augustana College basketball program.

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