Summit League extension brings ‘stability’ PREMIER Center GM says Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Mike Krewson knows not to take anything for granted. 

The General Manager for the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center has seen the COVID-19 pandemic upend many norms regarding big events. That’s why he’s grateful for the extra “stability” that comes with last week’s announcement of the Summit League men’s and women’s basketball championships extending through 2025. 

“It was a long time coming,” Krewson told KELOLAND News on Monday. “Started talks last year. Obviously, COVID slows everything down.” 

Last year, the PREMIER Center did not host the Summit League basketball championships, as the annual event was held without fans at the Sanford Pentagon. The current contract between the Summit League and the PREMIER Center ran through 2022. 

“You don’t want to get down to that last year, because there’s that unknown,” Krewson said. “This tournament is big and there are other suitors out there, other communities wanting to pull that away from us. Being able to lock it in for another three years past this year is a big deal.” 

Along with competition from other cities, politics also began to creep into future negotiations regarding the Summit League basketball tournament in Sioux Falls.  

The passage of House Bill 1217 was followed by a series of events that could have impacted the future of the Summit League tournament and other future NCAA events in South Dakota. Sioux Falls Sports Authority Executive Director Thomas Lee told KELOLAND News in March if HB 1217 became law, it would likely create “fallout here for events, sporting events, concerts, conventions, that will have a similar effect to what North Carolina went through a few years ago.”

Gov. Kristi Noem ended up vetoing HB1217, formed a new coalition called “Defend Title IX Now” and issued two Executive Orders she said “would protect fairness in girls’ and women’s sports at the K-12 and collegiate levels.”

In April, the NCAA Board of Governors released a statement saying it “firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.”

While the issue isn’t going away, Krewson credited everyone who was working behind the scenes to help overcome difficulties and extend the event in Sioux Falls. 

One of those people was Lee, who told KELOLAND News this week he’s “thrilled the tournament is staying in Sioux Falls for the foreseeable future.”  

The tournament has economic impact “in the millions” according to Teri Schmidt, the longtime executive director of Experience Sioux Falls.

“It’s a win for Sioux Falls, it’s a win for the PREMIER Center,” Krewson said. “That’s what we’re here to do.” 

Krewson said many PREMIER Center sponors and premier seat holders look to the Summit League basketball championships as the “flagship” event during the year. He said Sioux Falls will continue to bid to host future tournaments and look to extend its relationship with the Summit League tournament.

“The Summit League is an anchor because it garners national exposure with ESPN,” Krewson said. “It’s a big deal, the stability for the community.”

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