Timberwolves Help Sanford Open Pentagon Facility Tonight

Timberwolves Help Sanford Open Pentagon Facility Tonight

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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When Sanford Health envisioned the new Pentagon facility on the Sanford Sports Complex in northern Sioux Falls, it wanted to give it a throwback feel—a touch of the past meeting the present. Sanford Health CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft and those involved in the planning process wanted the Sanford Pentagon to have the “Hoosiers” feel of the 20th century golden era while implementing the bells and whistles of 2013.

And from top to bottom, they succeed.

The Pentagon, which will be the new home to the NBA Development League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce this winter, will officially open its doors to professional basketball tonight when the Wolves and Bucks tip off at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North Plus. But from here on out, professional ball will be only the tip of the iceberg. The venue itself also has a total of 11 basketball courts and likely quadruple that in basketball hoops, which Sanford hopes will make the new facility a location for AAU tournaments and much more youth-involved basketball and volleyball activities in the future.

“We’re going to have a lot of tournaments; we have our own basketball academy, volleyball academy, that type of thing,” Sanford Sports Complex general manager Eric Larsen said. “But this is the Heritage Court [the main floor where the Wolves and Bucks will play], and it means a lot to be a throwback to the 1950s and 60s. The look has it, but obviously it has all the amenities you would expect in an arena in 2013.

Larsen said Sanford met with the Timberwolves during the planning process to get their input on what would be necessary to make it a facility that could house NBA games like tonight’s preseason matchup.

Inside the Heritage Court, the Wolves and Bucks will play in a facility that has the bleacher-like feel of an old-school gymnasium, but the seating on both sidelines are all fully equipped with regular stadium seats. The main scoreboard hanging above center court has the old-style clock with minute and second hands, but it also has all the digital time and scoring elements of today. That scoreboard was custom made by Daktronics in Brookings, just north of Sioux Falls.

The Pentagon has enough of a state-of-the-art feel to it that it impressed Bucks coach Larry Drew far more than he expected. He’s played and coached in non-NBA venues during his 30 years in the league, and this one stands out.

“Some facilities were better than others,” Drew said. “But this one is probably one of the best in all of my 30 years I’ve played in non-NBA cities. This is really, really nice.”

The arena itself is just the beginning. Literally.

Already standing on the same Sanford Sports Complex is the Sioux Falls Fieldhouse, a building equipped with an indoor football field next to an indoor soccer field, a weight room, training facility and more. Next to the Fieldhouse and the Pentagon is a bar and grill as well as a hotel. In the future, the 162-acre area will be built out to include more businesses as well as sporting facilities. It’s a five-phase project, according to Sanford POWER enterprise manager Scott Hettenbach, and in the future this area will also include hockey and tennis facilities as well as much more.

Hettenbach said the accessibility for youth, adults and athletic teams all in one area makes this sports complex cutting edge.

“It will become its own little campus, kind of a one-stop shop if you come here for AAU tournaments or for a series of camps or whatever. You can really sustain, and everything you need is on this campus.”

Wolves President Chris Wright said it’s a special opportunity for the team to take part in this opening night. Not only is this a chance to play in front of fans within the Sioux Falls area that don’t always get a chance to see the Timberwolves play, but it will also be a chance to team with Sanford on the court in a way the two often work together off the court. The Wolves and Lynx organizations have been partners with Sanford on several levels, including teaming up to fight breast cancer with the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Center—among other initiatives.

They also worked with Sanford on the preparations for this facility, and this is a chance to see it introduced to the public.

“[Sanford] loves sports as a platform to really showcase everything they are doing as a healthcare system,” Wright said. “And they’ve done a phenomenal job with that.”

It’s been a work in progress that Wright said he can’t wait to see.

“Here we are, two years later, going down there Thursday with a sellout crowd to open up this new building,” he said. “It’s very special for our relationship with Sanford and our relationship with that market. It will also be a special opportunity for our players to see what a company like that is doing in its own back yard to support the great game of basketball in Sioux Falls and the region round Sioux Falls.”

Larsen said it’s a privilege to have the Wolves and Bucks on hand to start this new era.

“This is the NBA, man. It’s a great honor to have the NBA come here and play the first game in here in front of a sellout crowd tonight,” Larsen said. “I think it’s going to be a great atmosphere, and we’re all really looking forward to it.”

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