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Summit League Surprises

March 6, 2014, 10:10 PM by Jared Ransom

Summit League Surprises

It's a year of transition for one of the country's premiere athletic tournaments as the Summit League prepares for a major change.

One year from now, the tournament will have a different feel when tipoff takes place in the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.

The 2014 Summit League basketball tournaments are set for tip off. It's a time of year that shows off a full 12 months of work for so many involved in the event.

"The 200 volunteers we have, they love going to that event. So, yeah, it's a lot of hard work, but it's a lot of fun at the same time," Sioux Falls Sports Authority Executive Director Wes Hall said.

"The tournament is a climax of a great year of basketball, particularly this year. We have two things going for us that are a little bit unusual," Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple said.

Unusual, but exciting, as people get set to make the transition from the Sioux Falls Arena to the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.

"When you have 6,500 screaming fans, it's kind of a cool feeling there. Now, when we move to the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, I hope we can say when we put 12,000 screaming fans, it's a cool feeling as well," Hall said.

"We're excited about the move into the new arena. We think we can do some additional things for our fans, possibly do a fan fest before the games, we're looking into that," Douple said.

The Summit League Commissioner says he is already set for tipoff in 2015, hoping to add more excitement for the sports fans in the city.

"Sioux Falls is outstanding with their volunteers, whether it be at the arena or throughout the city, they've been very supportive of the tournament, very knowledgeable fan base," Douple said.

"We're putting more fans in the stands for women's games, on average, than the Pac-12 is doing. That says something about basketball," Hall said.

Douple's vision for a fan-centered experience is shared by those on the front lines for this event.

"We can bring in all the universities; they can bring in their school booths. We can bring out some hoops for the kids to do some three-point contests and just to a lot of fan interaction there," Hall said.

"We have some interesting spaces, so we can do fan zones. More opportunity for teams and the players just with the number of locker rooms we have, the quality of locker rooms, the quality of media spaces," SMG Sioux Falls GM Terry Torkildson said.

The full-fan experience could be as exciting as the tournament itself, but the plans are being made for a venue still in the middle of construction.

"I want to make sure that we know exactly what we're doing when those tickets go on sale for 2015 so that everything will run smooth and there won't be any hiccups before," Hall said.

Just looking at the space as it is and what it will soon become, it was enough to bring along a strong commitment from the Summit League.

"We have a five-year agreement to remain in Sioux Falls with the option to renew that for an additional five years, so we're pretty well set for the foreseeable future," Douple said.

"The uses at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center are endless, and not only will we see the Summit League come in here to grow and expand, other events will come to the event center as well and be part of the Sioux Falls community."

"Potentially bringing in some USOC Olympic trials, potential regional trials and bringing them to a facility and to the Midwest where wrestling is a big deal here, as well," Hall said.

"Oh, absolutely. We are up for anything. If they want to come and we can make money at it and it's good for the community, we're ready to do it," Torkildson said.

A bright future for a bright beacon of sporting events set to entertain crowds for decades to come.

Keep up to date on the Summit League Tournament on KELOLAND's Summit League Tournament page.

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