From impressive recruitment room to fan lounges, USD unveils improved spaces

This piece is presented by Interstate Office Products.

From recruiting new athletes to stepping up the fan experience, everything about the new Sanford Coyote Sports Center is an improvement.

“Before we did this project, we honestly did not have a lot of these types of spaces,” director of athletics David Herbster said. “In many cases, it was starting from scratch and starting from a blank slate.”

USD has a longstanding relationship with Interstate Office Products, which has designed spaces across the Vermillion, Sioux Falls and Rapid City campuses and provided furniture for the past 15 years.

“It made sense on campus to have things that were alike across the facilities, so if they had to move things they would match. They have a lot of buildings, and we’ve done everything furniture-related that’s gone into them,” said Kristi Christensen, IOP’s vice president of sales and design.

Courtesy Ken Petersen and Architecture Incorporated

Tackling the sports center, though, involved creating multiple unique spaces, from club lounges to state-of-the-art athletics facilities.

“I think our final product is going to have a huge impact on their program,” Christensen said. “They could visualize what they wanted this to be. We just had to help them get there.”

Herbster, who jokes he’s not even allowed to pick out finishes in his home, agreed.

“It can be intimidating, but they did such a good job giving us options and recommendations and letting us form our opinions,” he said. “Their experience and expertise was invaluable. If I had to do it on my own, it never would have come together like it did.”

Here’s a look behind the scenes at six top spots in the new sports center.

The Recruiting Room

Want to snag top recruits in college athletics? It helps to bring them to a space like this. Before creating this recruitment room, USD athletics staff used to hunt for spots on campus to meet with recruits and their families.

“The idea was to create a room that feels like a home,” Herbster said. “It’s a little modern but comfortable, and when you’re sitting on the couch with the recruit and parents, you can have other coaches there and have a really good conversation.”

The layout, design and furniture “really make it feel very inviting and welcoming, and a relaxed atmosphere when you can come in, and feel good and comfortable about the university,” he said.

“When the first impressions are very positive and you’re able to have conversations in a warm, inviting atmosphere, you’re going to remember a positive experience about being on campus, and sometimes that’s half the battle.”

Interstate Office Products was able to take a relatively small space but use tiered stools, swivel lounge seating and a USD-branded sectional  to create the right look and feel. Plus, the space looks great on video when students talk with coaches remotely.

“When student athletes come, they bring not only parents but siblings and friends, so that was unique, and we wanted a modern, fun vibe to attract students,” Christensen said. “It’s very polished and very much USD. We used a lot of red, gray, black, and it’s more modern than what you would find on campus in most locations – and definitely not what you’d find at the Dome.”

The Locker Lounge

The locker room at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center is used in a lot of ways. It’s a team room, a meeting room and a lounge for athletes. “We wanted something that looked like home,” Herbster said. “We wanted it to be comfortable, functional and yet durable. We use it for a lot of things, so it has to be flexible, but we wanted it to look a little higher-end.”

Courtesy Ken Petersen and Architecture Incorporated

Black lounge seats look and feel like leather but are made from a synthetic material “because athletes are potentially going to sit on those after practice when they’re sweaty, so you need something durable that looks high-end,” he explained.


Interstate Office Products incorporated fun stools, casual seating and a kitchenette that is stocked with snacks for the athletes.

“It’s really about amenities for the athletes,” Christensen said. “The whole area is focused on providing them a relaxing environment to call their own.”

The locker lounge ended up being “a place where the team feels very comfortable and at home,” Herbster said. “That’s what we wanted. It was a ‘wow’ when they saw it for the first time. There’s a great deal of pride and ownership in it.”

The Film Room

Athletes watch a lot of game film. They easily can sit in these chairs for an hour or more, so comfort was key. USD looked at a half-dozen university film rooms for inspiration.

“And we decided on this concept, with tiered lounge chairs with tablet arm surfaces that are completely movable,” Herbster said. “So if we had to take all the chairs out or move them, we could.”

Courtesy Ken Petersen and Architecture Incorporated

“Teams can easily decompress here after the game,” Christensen added. “They’re sitting in comfortable chairs customized for the athletics program.”

The black tiered lounge chairs feature prominent USD stitching that pops out visually.

This room also doubles as a space for interviews and news conferences.

“It’s a showplace where they can watch films, do interviews and gather as a team; there are a lot of logos in the design,” Christensen said. “When you pan to people talking during an interview, you see USD logos prominently. It’s not huge, but it’s the sort of space they have never had, and it’s a very dynamic space.”

The Dome Club

The fan experience hits a higher level at the new Dome Club, a space overlooking the Dome and meant to entertain donors, alumni and university leaders on game day.

At the same time, the design needed to be flexible so the lounge could be reconfigured for sit-down dinners and meetings.

Courtesy Ken Petersen and Architecture Incorporated

“We provided two sets of furniture – one is more casual, with bar-height tables designed for pre- and post-game events, as well as lounge groupings for smaller gatherings. All the furniture can be moved out, and more traditional banquet tables and chairs can be brought in,” Christensen explained.

The design included black leather furniture with silver, light gray and red accents in other seating upholstery, table and bar surfaces.

“Everything in the room from the carpet to the paint and materials is the USD brand story,” she said.

USD has used the space for a sit-down dinner with 180 people, “and we find it a good gathering place for our larger teams,” Herbster said. “Having that high-end feel but being able to change things out so we have flexibility for programs and events was important.”

The CorTrust Club

The new CorTrust Club overlooking the Arena has a fun, comfortable vibe for fans primarily watching basketball.

Courtesy Ken Petersen and Architecture Incorporated

“You go in there and it feels special,” Herbster said. “It’s not a place with folding tables and chairs. It’s classy, and it’s elevating the expectations of people. There’s a ‘wow’ factor.”

Seating is done in small clusters, “so if you’re with family or a smaller group, you don’t feel like you’re in sea of people,” Christensen said. “It’s very comfortable and durable, and also is oriented to pre- and post-game events.”

Courtesy Ken Petersen and Architecture Incorporated

The administrative offices

The sports center’s new offices are a big improvement for USD staff used to working out of the late 1970s-style office space in the Dome.

“You can imagine the collection and different types of office setups there were. It was all over the place,” Herbster said. “Nothing matched, and there was no uniform look.”

The new space is clean, professional and consistent with USD’s look across campus.

“Everything about our work with USD is designed to show they are a forward-thinking, student-focused, modern and growing campus,” Christensen said. “Even small projects can have a huge impact if done thoughtfully and purposefully.”

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From impressive recruitment room to fan lounges, USD unveils improved spaces

From recruiting new athletes to stepping up the fan experience, everything about the new Sanford Coyote Sports Center is an improvement. Come with us behind the scenes for a look at the new space.

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