Augustana College President Rob Oliver, Director of Athletics Bill Gross alongside Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether and Terry Torkildson, General Manager of the Sioux Falls Arena and Convention Center, announced at a news conference today that the two entities have entered into a five-year agreement to move Augustana men's and women's basketball doubleheaders to the Sioux Falls Arena starting in 2014-15. Augustana last played basketball at the Sioux Falls Arena during the 2006-07 season.
The Sioux Falls Arena was the permanent home of Augustana basketball from 1961-1989.
"After our discussions began last fall, our athletic administrative team went to work and outlined our plan for how we wanted the Arena to look and feel for our home games," Gross said. "The city of Sioux Falls and SMG have met every one of our requests, so today I am pleased to announce an exciting future for Augustana basketball at Sioux Falls Arena."
Augustana athletics has been looking for a way to improve the atmosphere for home basketball games for some time. "As the Elmen Center reached its 25th anniversary, it became apparent to our administration that we either had to make improvements to the facility or look at other options," Gross said. "The current state of the Hall Sports Forum, with bleacher seating and challenging parking, was no longer attracting to new fans to help us grow our current fan base of 1,750 season ticket holders. As we looked into upgrading the Forum to include chairback seats, suites and videoboards, we found it was impossible to make the Forum in the Elmen Center the space we need to help our fan base grow."
The Sioux Falls Arena will be transformed into the new home of Augustana basketball. The venue will be painted in Augustana blue and gold, including the playing surface. The transformed arena will offer many amenities to fans not available at the Elmen Center, including:
• Over 3,500 chairback seats on the lower and upper levels.
• Two three-year old videoboards to enhance the fan experience.
• A new state-of-the-art digital scorers table.
• Over 4,400 parking spaces in the Arena/Convention Center and Event Center lots.
• Club seating with over 100 preferred seats.
Other improvements at the arena will include a re-painted basketball playing surface with Augustana colors and logos. The lobby areas will be updated with Augustana colors and logos. Inside the arena, a 16-foot high curtain will be installed behind row 12 of the second level to provide a more intimate feel. The capacity for Augustana basketball at the Sioux Falls Arena will be 4,066. The Arena also offers Augustana opportunities to host events for the Viking Kid's Club and other promotional activities to enhance the gameday experience at basketball games.
"We have discussed this move with our season ticket holders, students and fans," Gross said. "After learning more about the move, we have received support from our Athletic Club Board of Directors, our Augieholics student support organization, our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and basketball coaches Tom Billeter and Dave Krauth."
With 13 doubleheaders scheduled for 2014-15 at the Arena, Sioux Falls' Mayor Mike Huether was excited about the opportunity of Augustana basketball being played at the Arena. "This is positive out-of-the box thinking by the folks at Augustana and we are so pleased to have them partner with the city," Huether said. "Augustana basketball and the Sioux Falls Arena will be a solid partnership and create another quality of life win for Sioux Falls."
"We have and will continue to do everything we can to make the Arena a great home site for Augustana basketball beginning this year and years to come," General Manager of the Sioux Falls Arena and Convention Center Terry Torkildson said.
Located in Sioux Falls, S.D., Augustana College is a member of NCAA Division II and competes in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
Courtesy: Tim Evans, Sports Information Director, Augustana College