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The Business of Sports

December 22, 2013, 9:55 PM by Jared Ransom

The Business of Sports
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

From basketball and hockey in the winter, baseball in the summer and plenty in between. Each part of the calendar year can offer someone in Sioux Falls a perfect sports adventure.

"Sports in this town is such a big deal. I mean, this town continues to grow and grow and there's so many things to do, but I think the sports teams in this town really anchor it," Executive VP of Business Operations for the Canaries and the Stampede, Jim Olander, said.

With so much to do, the city is quickly becoming a premiere sports destination.

"We are a sports town, and a lot of that has to do with our rich history of sports that we have here not only from the collegiate side of things, but the professional side of things," Sioux Falls Sports Authority Executive Director, Wes Hall, said.

Sioux Falls is arguably one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, both in business and in population. As the city grows, the sporting opportunities grow along with it.

"Always expanding. That's the good thing about the people in Sioux Falls, they never, never stand pat. Once we get a big event, then the next year they want the bigger event," Sioux Falls Skyforce Owner and President, Mike Heineman, said.

Over the last ten years, Sioux Falls has seen more than 24,000 people move in and call the city home. While there are a number of reasons for this growth, Jim Olander thinks that a big factor is the opportunity for sports and entertainment.

"It's just like going to a hockey game for the first time. We catch you and you want to keep coming back. I think the city is the same way. You come to Sioux Falls for the first time, you see what there is to offer and you want to keep coming back," Olander said.

"I just moved here back in January, and it was definitely something that I looked at not only from a professional standpoint, but from the entertainment value of what the city of Sioux Falls has to offer to me and my family," Hall said.

Through the presence of teams like the Skyforce, the Stampede, the Canaries and the Storm, people are visiting Sioux Falls from all over the world, bringing more visitors to the area.

"I'm sure you're going to see people that are going to say 'Hey, this is a great community, this is a place that I want to live. There's a lot of great businesses here, it continues to grow and grow, and it's a great place to certainly raise a family,'" Olander said.

The teams are also bringing the city more money.

"With the Canaries, we have groups that come from Winnipeg that spend a whole week here when we play Winnipeg, and that means they're staying at hotels, they're going to restaurants, they're going to the mall, they're spending money in other areas than just at the ball parks," Olander said.

"I think there's younger adults out there with more and more money that want to come to the city, we give them a good reason to be here if they like sports," Heineman said.

What if they don't like sports?

For many, that may not matter. These sports teams give families a chance to have some fun together.

"50 percent of the fans that come to our game, if we win or lose, they probably don't care. They're just looking for a reason to get out of the house with their kids and just enjoy the night," Heineman said.

The minor league sports that Sioux Falls has to offer may also be more family friendly in comparison to some of the major league events in other cities.

"You look at that cost. What does it cost to bring a family of four to a Canaries game or to a Skyforce game versus what does it cost to take a family of four to a Vikings game or a Twins game," Hall said.

"Obviously, that's attractive. I mean, we all want to think about the big leagues and having the big-time players here, but there's a lot of different expenses that come with that, too," Olander said.

Team owners believe it to be the perfect combination. The sports teams bring people to the city, the city earns more money and the city continues to prosper. It is that relationship that makes sports an essential part of the continued success of Sioux Falls.

"We're going to keep growing, and as we grow, the sports market will grow right along with it," Hall said.

The financial benefit of sports will also be felt when the NCAA championships take place in the city over the coming years.
Millions of dollars in new revenue could be seen when the events take place in Sioux Falls.

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