Five years in, Sanford Sports Complex enters next phase of growth

Jan. 15, 2018

Compared to many developments, the Sanford Sports Complex was on a five-year fast-track.

The Fieldhouse and city-owned football fields opened in 2012. The Pentagon basketball complex followed in 2013. Then came a hotel and restaurant. The Scheels IcePlex opened in 2014, followed by Huether Match Pointe in 2015.

That completes what Sanford Health considered its first phase for the development east of Interstate 29 near Benson Road and Westport Avenue.

“Where (CEO) Kelby Krabbenhoft is at is it’s time to turn the page, and what’s next on the agenda,” said Matt Ditmanson, who became director of business development for the Sanford Sports Complex in the fall of 2017.

“Now we’re going to ramp it up out here.”

While the first five years have produced an estimated $140 million in economic impact, including construction, a conservative estimate would equal that in the next five to 10 years, he said.

“That will be our target, to do at least that and then some in construction and new projects that will benefit the whole community.”

Development potential

Sanford began the development with about 120 acres. Additional land has been added since, including a 300-acre purchase about a year ago.

Future growth will include a combination of Sanford initiatives, retail space and offices, Ditmanson said.

A site plan shows a scenario for how the land could develop, including large parcels for retail and entertainment uses and areas of residential development on the west side.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to develop that piece with interstate exposure,” said Raquel Blount, vice president of commercial real estate at Lloyd Cos., who represents the property.

“We’re trying to create some synergies with all the good things coming to the northwest: Foundation Park, the Walmart, the Discovery District, the growth of Southeast Tech, just to create an environment where there’s more shopping and dining options.”

The Sanford Sports Complex, which draws 650,000 visitors annually, will benefit from nearby commercial activity, Ditmanson said.

“Retail is going to generate additional growth. A lot of what Raquel is working on will dictate our series of events,” he said. “It’s going to be a timing issue.”

Sanford anticipates additional athletic uses for some of the property.

Power & Grace Gymnastics is scheduled to open a 16,000-square-foot gym this summer north of the Scheels IcePlex. It serves 500 kids in gymnastics and cheer programs and will offer in-ground equipment and trampolines.

“That will be a great fit for what we’re trying to do to increase our scope of sports activities and a year-round fit,” Ditmanson said.

Future sports-related projects will be determined in part by the success of attracting retail, he said.

“We’re looking forward to making an announcement this fall on a project,” he said, adding that going forward “there will be a mix of both Sanford-driven projects and projects like what we’ve seen with partnerships.”

Other additional developments for the property could include a second hotel. The Fairfield Inn & Suites Airport has seen “incredible success” in the past four years, said Brittani Moncur, director of market sales for operator TMI Hospitality.

“It has been an exciting journey watching the complex community grow and the destination that it has become regionally,” she said. “Every single tournament the complex secures is key in driving occupancy, not only into our hotel on campus but others in Sioux Falls as well.”

The first retailer on the site opened early in 2016. Hockey Headquarters moved into a 9,600-square-foot-space. There is still space in the retail center for lease.

Existing users see growth

The Fieldhouse is at capacity, especially at this time of year.

“I don’t know if it could get any busier,” Ditmanson said. “All fields are full, and when the weather gets cold, it’s in high demand.”

The Pentagon also has come into its own, he said.

“We’re super excited about it. We were pretty aggressive recruiting big events, but now they’re seeking us. So the tide has turned.”

Eight original corporate sponsors helped launch the center with five-year agreements. Renewals are in discussion, Ditmanson said.

“None of this would have been possible without them,” he said, adding that in addition to basketball, the venue has proven a good fit for everything from midsize-market concerts to large corporate events.

The restaurant at the complex rebranded last year from Beef ‘O’ Brady’s to Will’s Training Table, and “we’ve been really excited by what we’ve seen lately,” Ditmanson said.

He credits a revamped menu, which was both simplified and fine-tuned to be athlete-friendly. The restaurant also has been set up for impromptu sporting event watch parties and special events tied to games at the Pentagon.

The Scheels IcePlex is another success story.

“We’re meeting all our expectations and in some ways probably exceeding them,” said Joe Zueger, who led the effort to build the privately run facility largely through donations.

Original projections didn’t call for all three sheets of ice to be operational year-round until year six and seven, “and we ran all three sheets in the second summer,” he said. “It’s busy.”

The accessibility of ice has attracted tournaments as teams grow to the south and west of Sioux Falls, and the IcePlex offers a year-round option for three sheets of ice, he said.

“They can bring more teams, and they’ve shown a strong willingness to come if we can make three sheets available,” Zueger said.

The IcePlex is in the conceptual stages of figuring out “what the most appropriate phase two would be,” he said, adding no time line or scope of expansion has been established.

At Huether Match Pointe, executive director Bryce Barnard took over last year.

“Our usage is trending up both in usage and revenues, but we still have a little more growth that is needed to reach our budget goals,” he said.

The complex is almost at capacity most weekday evenings but has more open time during the day on Friday, he said. Weekends also are almost full. All ages have been playing there, he said.

“The most beneficial growth that could happen to us is more 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. court usage from players just coming out and renting a court, because our teaching schedules are nearly full,” Barnard said. “The patrons that use our facility are absolutely all ages: 4 through seniors.”

The center will introduce more adult programming for beginners this year as well as tennis exercise classes, a national level tournament for 12- to 14-year-olds and potentially adult USTA competitive leagues.

“The sports complex in my view is a great area to be a part of and, yes, to grow our business,” Barnard said. “The exposure with the different events and programs should be ideal help to us and other businesses within the complex.”

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Five years in, Sanford Sports Complex enters next phase of growth

“We’re going to ramp it up out here.” This could be a big year of announcements at the Sanford Sports Complex.

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