The Summit League Tournament will stay in Sioux Falls, S.D. as long as the Denny Sanford Premier Center has its doors open. Sure doesn’t look like those doors are going to be boarded up anytime soon.
Over 65,000 attendees are helping the cause with another new record set for total attendance this year at the four-day event. A new year equals more people. That seems to be the pattern for what the USA Today called “March’s Best-Kept Secret” in 2014.
There’s a few reasons for that success, but let’s face it, the biggest reason is just under an hour’s drive north of Sioux Falls. South Dakota State’s campus sits 55 miles away from the Premier Center.
Consider by many as more of a basketball school, the Jackrabbits have been close to or at the top of the Summit in both men’s and women’s basketball since they joined the league in 2007.
The excitement and success for both programs means more Jackrabbit fans are willing to make the short trek down I-29. That support is apparent when SDSU fans make the Premier Center look like just another home game in Frost Arena, a place where the Jackrabbit men haven’t lost at in 29 games with two straight perfect home seasons.
This year’s Jackrabbits swept the titles in front of a very pro-Jackrabbit crowd throughout the entire home tournament.
Isn’t that unfair for the rest of the Summit League teams that are supposed to be playing on a neutral floor for the postseason? As long as SDSU keeps winning, it doesn’t seem like that neutral floor is going to happen.
Just imagine if either Oral Roberts or Denver could have held on to their sizeable leads against SDSU in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. There’d be a sprinkling of SDSU fans sticking around to watch, but most others probably couldn’t even find someone to give their tickets to for free.
Oral Roberts and Denver fans sure aren’t going to make the nine to ten-hour drive to Sioux Falls for championship night. But a majority of the tickets have already been snatched up by SDSU fans, so the hosts still get their gate.
Well money talks, people. That’s why the Summit League Tournament is staying in Sioux Falls. The Summit League is getting record attendances and more revenue in Sioux Falls. A move to anywhere else – for instance a seemingly more neutral location in Minneapolis – wouldn’t compare to the current location’s success.
Unless SDSU loses or somehow becomes a Summit League bottom-feeder, it’s just expected that it’s a road game when you go up against the Jacks.
Just be happy the tournament is in one of the best arenas for basketball in the Midwest, and it’s only a little over three hours away — a makeable drive on a Tuesday to catch the Bison in yet another championship game.
That’s a whole lot better than where the tournament was before it came to Sioux Falls in 2009. I’ll pass on a day-trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma.