And here’s a Daily Dose that ran in Wednesday’s paper, along with my main story. (As always, the log-in is free)
BY JEREMY HOECK
Here’s the current home game and match setup for four certain athletic programs at the University of South Dakota:
• Basketball plays in a cavernous DakotaDome, which makes a respectable crowd of 1,800 look more like 800.
• Volleyball plays in the “Coyote Den” on the upper level of the dome. The maximum number of fans allowed is somewhere around 350 to comply with building and fire codes.
• Outdoor track, well, doesn’t have a true home. USD annually hosts a meet in Yankton, and routinely sends athletes to the Howard Wood Relays in Sioux Falls and the Sioux City Relays.
• Soccer has its own field, to the north of the DakotaDome, but quite honestly, it’s far from Division I caliber. That’s no secret. Maintaining the natural grass field presents a rather big headache for those involved. They’d be the first to tell you that.
As you can see, certain changes were needed to the USD athletic landscape.
That will all change by the fall of 2016. By that point, the new 6,000-seat arena will be ready for action, and the outdoor track and soccer complex will be in full swing.
I’ve touched on this before, but put simply: This was more of a “need” than a “want” in Vermillion. Those programs needed new homes, particularly if USD is going to keep race with its D-I brethren in the area.
Basketball, of course, is the highlight of those sports. Look around the area, and look at how many schools have opened or will open new facilities in the near future — IUPUI, North Dakota State, Omaha and USD will be in new basketball homes by 2016.
It’s the “arms race” you read about. You have to keep up with the times, or you risk lagging behind. And that, to be honest, is where USD is with the setup for basketball and volleyball in the DakotaDome.
Tuesday afternoon’s ground-breaking ceremony in Vermillion came off as more of a party than a simple dirt-moving exercise, which we’ve come to see a lot of in recent years. And there was good reason for that celebration.
USD, after all these years of simply talking about or “hoping” for new facilities, will have exactly that within two years.