Sanford Sports Complex fills with events as Great Shots takes shape

Aug. 21, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by Sanford Health.

An unprecedented number of activities scheduled for this fall at the Sanford Sports Complex can be easily explained based on the number of buildings in use that didn’t exist a year ago.

In late November, Great Shots, a three-story golf entertainment facility described by its general manager Jonathan Buckley as “like bowling or darts but for golf,” will be open to the public.

The 54,000-square-foot golf building joins the two-story, 15,600-square-foot Sanford Acute Care and Orthopedic Fast Track Clinic, which includes the Summit League’s new headquarters, as fresh additions to the complex’s skyline.

The core of the fall flurry will remain at the Pentagon, however, which has had its own additions to what has been an increasingly busy schedule since opening in 2013.

The 3,200-seat arena, which has hosted 25 NCAA Division I college basketball games, gets two more this year from outside the state in November with Wisconsin playing St. Mary’s of California on Nov. 5 and Minnesota vs. Oklahoma on Nov. 9. Tickets for both are on sale now.

The Pentagon also welcomes a new tenant with the Augustana University men’s and women’s basketball teams playing their Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference home games at the facility for the first time. The Vikings will be joining the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the G-League basketball franchise that has played its home games at the Pentagon since it opened.

“It really adds to the complement of diversity of sports and entertainment we have at the Pentagon,” said Matt Ditmanson, director of business development for the Sanford Sports Complex. “And specific to basketball, we have youth basketball all the way to pro basketball. Having a home team like Augustana University there couldn’t be more exciting for us for a crowd base.”

The schedule also includes a visit from country music recording artist Cody Johnson on Oct. 12. The NSIC, which has hosted several basketball tournaments at the Pentagon, will add its postseason league volleyball tournament Nov. 21-24.

And, in reference to diversity, the Pentagon is hosting the $13,000 Sanford Pentagon Cornhole Classic presented by Southwest Minnesota Cornhole from Sept. 13-15.

It’s unlikely when the Pentagon opened in 2013 that many envisioned the facility someday showcasing a sport best known as a complement to Saturday night barbecues in the backyard, but the utility of the facility – as well as the rest of the area – continues to evolve.

“If you looked back and saw what Blaine, Minn., looked like back when the National Sports Complex was first getting started, there was literally nothing around it,” Ditmanson said. “Now, it’s a retail metropolis of housing and businesses supporting all of these youth sports activities. I equate it to what we’re doing now.”

To the increased activity at the Pentagon, the complex has added the presence of Great Shots, a facility that promises to revolutionize whatever it is people know about the concept of year-round golf in the upper Midwest.

“For us, it’s all about educating the community on what Great Shots is,” Buckley said. “People want to call it indoor golf. While the tee lines are covered, you’re actually hitting golf balls to an open-air driving range that is 250 yards in length. You’re not hitting golf balls into a screen. Real golf clubs, real golf balls and full swings. I like to describe it as bowling and darts but for golf.”

The individual bays can take on as many as 10 people per bay, with access to food and beverage service while hitting golf balls. Via Great Shots’ software, golfers have access to different golf courses and target games.

It may be a little difficult to envision without seeing the facility in action, but that will come soon enough. Final stages of construction are on schedule and moving forward quickly.

“I take a tour three or four times a week,” Buckley said. “It’s pretty neat to see the progression from week to week and during the week itself. The inside of the building is looking great, and I’m excited to get going. I can’t wait.”

There are plenty of ways to measure the undertaking of the addition of Great Shots to the complex. Perhaps most strikingly will be the number of people involved in sustaining operations. Buckley anticipates the business will hire between 300 and 400 people on a full- and part-time basis in the next three months.

To that end, Great Shots is scheduling job fairs and recruiting events for September.

“The biggest thing from an operational standpoint is hiring the team that will be working there,” Buckley said. “The community has been great with the buzz every time we’re out at events educating people. A lot of people will be using it as a second job or retired people who want something to do during the day in the golf services area. There are going to be a lot of opportunities available.”

Those interested in employment at Great Shots can inquire at job@greatshots.golf.

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Sanford Sports Complex fills with events as Great Shots takes shape

The Sanford Sports Complex is ready to welcome an unprecedented number of events this fall — and preparing for even more with the arrival of Great Shots.

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