Earlier this week, I got a tour of the Pentagon that’s being built at the Sanford Health Sports Complex. No pics or video allowed, but here’s some of the takeaway based on observations and a conversation with general manager Eric Larsen:
- The main entry will be at the point of the pentagon shape and modeled loosely after Ralph Engelstad Arena in having brick, wrought-iron gates and a store. Brick is also prominent in the concourse.
- A mural of basketball’s evolution of the years - from LeBron James to George Mikan - will lead fans down the ramp into the primary gym. That’s in addition to an area in the concourse reserved for the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame.
- Each of the four primary lockerrooms will include a lounge area (with couches and a TV) plus a coaches room and a training room. Also, the doorways and shower heads are being set higher than normal. Meanwhile, there are roughly six extra/unoccupied meeting rooms throughout the building. Their use will be determined later.
- Each of the eight perimeter gyms will have seating for 96 plus second-floor viewing areas. Larsen described those as high-end high school floors. The primary floor will be parquet and of NBA quality.
- The pressbox is located above the suite level. Larsen said that Fox Sports North and Midco Sports Net were consulted in making the facility TV friendly.
- The new Sanford volleyball program and the TIBBS basketball academy will have permanent office space in the building in addition to holding workouts there. Meanwhile, Larsen said that basketball teams are already calling to book practice space and tournaments. The first official event is likely to be held in October.
- The job of director of basketball operations formerly held by Bill Walker will be absorbed, at least for now, according to Larsen. Walker left to take an assistant job at Drake.
- The facility covers 162,000 square feet yet feels relatively intimate even in an unfinished state. The configuration in the Heritage Court - where the Skyforce will play - seems more vertical than the Arena.
Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.