SIOUX FALLS, SD - Sioux Falls knows youth sporting events can have a multimillion dollar impact on the community, and a new sports complex in the city wants to capitalize on not only hosting those events but also catering to families when they come to town.
"We've gone from a cornfield to a small community out here in a very short period of time," Eric Larsen General Manager of the Sanford Sports Complex said.
The Sanford Fieldhouse has been open in a northwest Sioux Falls development near the airport for about a year offering a place for athletes to train. Nine new junior football fields are right next door. Across the street the new Sanford Pentagon is set to open in less than a month. It will be home to the Sioux Falls Skyforce and host basketball tournaments.
"We want it to be where you come out here for a sporting event and spend the day if you want to because we know some of these sporting events you have to spend the day out here," Larsen said.
And that's why the new Sanford Sports Complex isn't just focusing on sporting venues. A new Marriott hotel is set to open in about a month and Beef O' Brady's family restaurant and sports bar plans to open at the site October 1.
"We wanted a nice family atmosphere. This is obviously going to be a very big family environment with all the kids’ sports here," Rory Kelly with Beef O' Brady's said.
It's a model meant to make it easy for athletes and families to participate in their games, tournaments and events and stay, dine, and have fun all in one place.
"It's to make it easy for the people that come for the sporting events and it helps us draw people from a larger distance when they see they can come out to this venue and they can stay here in a hotel, the restaurant will be here," Larsen said.
Construction on an indoor tennis facility and the Scheel's Iceplex will also start this fall at the complex. As more sports venues are built officials expect more retail and restaurants to pop up as well.
"We would hope to expand the whole hospitality side of the complex and that would be in a phase two or phase three of the project," Larsen said.
The Beef O' Brady's at the Sanford Sports Complex will be larger than any other restaurant in the chain across the country. Officials expect to bring more people to this part of the city than just the families visiting for sporting events.
"I think we're going to draw a lot more people out here than folks realize especially with the food we're going to deliver and the atmosphere. It will be unique to this city," Kelly said.
And the complex with its combination of sports and hospitality venues promises to be unique at least in this region.
"We haven't found anything like this yet and that's certainly part of the draw," Larsen said.
The new Sanford Pentagon will open in September. The hotel and restaurant will be open by the time the venue hosts its first big time events, a Timberwolves preseason game in October and a Wisconsin Badgers college basketball game in November.