SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A big announcement from the Summit League today. The annual basketball tournament held at the Premier Center is moving to the Sanford Pentagon. But even more impactful is the decision to hold the tournament without fans, who come from around the country to watch their teams.
The Summit League Tournament has drawn some of the biggest crowds the premier center has seen for a sporting event.
The Premier center packed with fans, and in some cases it’s USD vs SDSU on a national stage. For basketball fans some say its doesn’t get any better. And that’s why word that fans won’t be allowed is going to have such an impact. Mike Risch is an SDSU supporter.
“For me personally its a family affair I’ve got family that flies in from North Carolina every year to see it, its a chance to see friends from college, people from small towns around the state that I don’t normally get to see anymore so its kind of that one year reunion for everybody that I want to see, so disappointing but obviously safety is their number one thing and I kind of expected it too,” said Risch.
Madison Vanwalleghan says she was really looking forward to the tournament, it’s something she shares with her parents. About to graduate with a masters from SDSU, she says she’s entertaining the idea of getting a job at the Pentagon just so she can get a peek at the action on the court.
“Sports have this ability to bring people together, no matter if you are a Jackrabbit fan, Coyote fan, you know you do not like the other team but you still respect that, and still respect the ability of the athletes, the coaching styles and just how much they are giving on the floor a 100 percent effort, I thinks its just exciting,” said Vanwalleghan.
And so you’re going to miss not being there in person?
“Yeah, absolutely, being there in person is the pinnacle of my March, you know that’s what I look forward to, 2021, new year, Summit league Tournament, that’s what is was looking for,” said Vanwalleghan.
Dylan Spader moved out of South Dakota and now lives in Orlando, Florida. He makes it a point to travel back to Sioux Falls for the Tournament every year. Like many he uses the event to reconnect. Spader says he understands why they aren’t allowing fans.
“I really enjoy being able to support the University of South Dakota and just continue to meet and mingle with new people and reconnect with some old ones because some people I only see once a year when I see them at the Summit league,” said Spader.
While disappointing, these three fans are already looking forward and say a one year hiatus for fans won’t lower their enthusiasm for next year.