SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — If you’ve ever attended a game or a concert at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, you might have overlooked it as you made your way to your seats. Located down a long corridor from the front lobby of the PREMIER Center is an interactive tribute to the greatest sports names of South Dakota. They’re the 300-plus people who’ve been inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame The Hall of Fame is turning to technology to showcase an ever-growing field of distinguished athletes.
The Denny Sanford PREMIER Center is home court for a roster of South Dakota sports legends.
“For a state of less than a million people, we’re proud to claim people like Joe Robbie and Casey Tibbs and Joe Foss, people like this that made their mark in sports,” South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame past president Terry Nielsen said.
This display case features inductees: athletes, coaches and contributors from all across the state. The members include Native Americans, African Americans and women. They represent a wide range of sports, including Leigh Dunker, who was a champion at horseshoes!
“A 35-time South Dakota state horseshoe pitching champion, but never was a big player on the world scene because he was a farmer from Warner, South Dakota and it interrupted his harvest,” South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame President Tim Smith said.
The Sports Hall of Fame started back to 1968 when it was under the direction of the South Dakota Sportswriters’ Association. Its signature event is an annual banquet to honor the newest inductees. Now, the hall is run by a board of more than 30 volunteers.
“Our committee is made up of people throughout the state of South Dakota and we’re proud of that because we have every region represented when we do our voting and tabulation for the honorees,” Nielsen said.
The Hall of Fame showcase has been located inside the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center since the building’s opening in 2014.
“The PREMIER Center is obviously now the Mecca of the big sporting events for the state of South Dakota, for us to be included in the PREMIER Center is fantastic,” Smith said.
The display features interactive touch screens which introduce visitors to all the Hall of Fame inductees. The people in charge of the hall want to maximize video technology to provide the full visual experience of sports in South Dakota.
“We’ve got a lot of VHS tapes and video discs and that type of stuff and we’re trying to bring that into the 21st century and try to find a place to store all of that,” South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame Executive Director Jim Dorman said.
The Hall of Fame doesn’t actively seek historical relics and memorabilia because there isn’t enough space here to display them.
“The only thing that I’ve got right now are these two cards that somebody sent to the Hall of Fame which are Billy Mills, I think are different track and field when he went into the Halll of Fame. That’s the extent of our memorabilia,” Dorman said.
People attending events at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center can check out this showcase. However, it’s closed the rest of the time for security reasons, and the people in charge of the Hall of Fame would like to see more public exposure for their display.
“In a way, it’s a little bit frustrating because you’d like it to be open at all times of the year, but also understandable and we’re still very grateful to be located in a place where so many thousands of people come to see sporting events during the year,” Smith said.
Creating a larger exhibit, with more flexible hours of operation, would place too much of a financial burden on the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, which operates on corporation sponsorship’s and donations. So for now, committee members are pleased with their current location and remain committed to preserving and archiving the legacies of the greatest South Dakotans to ever play the game.
“South Dakota’s a great state for sports,” Smith said.
You can meet the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame’s class of 2020 during the banquet in their honor at the Sioux Falls Convention Center on April 25. Tickets will be available next month.
You can see profiles of all previous inductees by clicking here