SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Summit League Basketball Championships tip off in less than 24 hours and the Sanford Pentagon is putting the finishing touches on tournament prep.
“Working through rim testing and signage packages and setup really for testing and for logistics for behind-the-scenes-type stuff,” Sanford Sports Vice President of Operations Jesse Smith said.
The recent NSIC Tournaments, featuring 16 men’s and women’s basketball teams, served as a solid test run for the Summit League Championships.
“We were happy with the outcome, happy with the protocols and how they worked,” Smith said.
Protocols in place, Smith has stopped using the term “bubble”, opting instead for “controlled environment” because of the human aspect.
“It’s hard for parents who haven’t got to see their kids play to not want to celebrate with them after the game, it’s hard for the athlete not to go hug mom or dad after the game, whether that’s on the sideline or getting onto the bus. That’s really the most difficult aspect for us to handle here,” Smith said.
Tickets are not being sold, but a limited number of immediate family members will be allowed for each team.
“Back of the house is off-limits to anybody that’s not in that tier-1 or tier-2 party, so fans will come in through the front door, immediately take a right, and be directed upstairs to the upper concourse and really never have an interaction with the teams or travel parties,” Smith said.
Teams will enter the Sanford Pentagon through the emergency doors on court eight and proceed immediately to the testing stations on court seven.
“One court is dedicated to four testing stations. The court next to that is set up for quarantine areas if we do have a positive test and we need to isolate that athlete we’ve got the space to do that, so really using every square inch of the facility, especially back of house,” Smith said.
Smith calls it a concert-like setup at the Pentagon. The plan was created with one goal in mind.
“Crown two teams champions on Heritage Court and then send those two teams to their national tournaments,” Smith said.
The tournament starts Saturday morning at 11:45, and continues through Tuesday. All four South Dakota teams will open play on Saturday.
KELOLAND Media Group will have complete coverage of the four-day event on-air, online, and on our KELOLAND News app. We’ll have live reports, including highlights and reaction, live blogs during the SDSU and USD games, and we’ll be live streaming the post-game press conferences for the local squads.