Sioux Falls, S.D., had a population of 125,000 at the start of the century. That number is 165,000 today.
The only arena of note dated to 1961 and was alleged to hold 7,500. It was home to minor league basketball (Skyforce), junior hockey (Stampede) and the worst invention in the history of American sports, arena football (Storm).
The Sioux Falls Arena also was home to the Summit League basketball tournaments since 2009. The surroundings will change dramatically when the Division I conference hosts its men’s and women’s tournaments March 7-10.
It will be played in the Denny Sanford Premier Center, a $117 million, 12,000-seat arena that opened last fall. This is not to be confused with the Sanford Pentagon, a $19 million, 3,250-seat arena that opened in 2013.
“You should see this place; it is gorgeous,’’ said Chad Walthall, Minnesota State Moorhead’s men’s basketball coach.
He was talking about the Pentagon, not the Premier that is presumably more dazzling.
The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, the mammoth Division II collection with 16 schools in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Iowa, will hold its final eight for both women and men at the Pentagon starting Saturday and concluding Tuesday.
(Update: There are Sioux Falls schools in the league -- Augustana and the University of Sioux Falls. Augustana won the conference tournament on Tuesday, beating MSU Moorhead in a battle of top seed from the North and South divisions.)
There will be a three-day break, and then the Summit — with nearby South Dakota State holding the men’s top seed — will also have a Saturday-through-Tuesday run.
T. Denny Sanford’s generosity and the booming Sanford Health have had few limits in the Dakotas. He financed the Pentagon and paid naming rights for the Premier Arena.
Sioux Falls is booming also, including in sports, where the Skyforce now enjoys the Pentagon, the Stampede the splendor of the Premier Arena, and a three-sheet complex called the Scheels IcePlex is soon to be completed.
And, yes, emissaries from Gophers athletics still are making winter excursions to Arizona, trying to convince Mr. Sanford to make a large contribution to the facilities push. Despite past differences with the U, I’m betting Sanford eventually makes the name donation for Jerry Kill’s football edifice.
Plus Three from Patrick
Ellsworth High played in six Minnesota state basketball tournaments from 2003 to 2010. All had Schilling brothers:
Curt, Class of ’04: Scored 2,255 points to rank No. 2 at Ellsworth and was inducted into Hall of Fame for Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.
Cody, Class of ’08: Scored 3,428 points, No. 1 at Ellsworth. Scored 1,868 points for Augustana to stand second all-time for Vikings.
Casey, Class of ’12: Scored 2,180 points, No. 3 at Ellsworth. He’s now a junior standout for Augustana; first-team All-NSIC as a sophomore and junior.