Augustana basketball could soon be making the move back to the Sioux Falls Arena. With the Stampede moving on to the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, Vikings brass are currently negotiating with arena officials to move games there for the next five years starting with next season.
While a formidable home court advantage, the Hall Sports Forum in the Elmen Center is in its 25th year and in need of upgrades. Studies found upgrades would cost between $1-$4 million. The money and the fact that a remodel would have reduced seating capacity, had officials looking for other options.
"So as we came out of that the arena folks began to talk to us about the possibility of moving there," Augie AD Bill Gross said.
In a growing city, Gross sees the switch as an opportunity to grow the Vikings' fan base. Right now, there are 1,800 season ticket holders.
While Augie is hoping to make the move to the arena, they don't want to make the move with the arena in its current state. There will need to be a lot of improvements made.
"We wanted a new Arena. We want a refitted, as we call it, Arena and we want folks when they walk in there the first time to realize this is something new. This is Augie's place," Gross said.
If a deal goes through, arena officials will re-paint the basketball floor, railings, and concourse poles with Augustana's colors, name and logos. A curtain will also be placed behind row 13 in the upper levels to give the facility a more intimate feel. On top of that, Augie will have more options when it comes to selling tickets and advertising inside the arena.
"Our projections are that we will make a significant amount of money moving to the Arena, after we pay the rent," Gross said.
A completed deal could be coming in the next few weeks increasing Augie's game capacity for 13-plus doubleheaders to 4,132 seats.
"That's our goal and I think that's the Arena's goal is to work with us because they would very much like us to use the place," Gross said.
The Arena was Augustana's home recently during the 2006-07 season.