The Summit League and the Sioux Falls Sports Authority have reached a long-term agreement that will keep The Summit League Basketball Championships in Sioux Falls through 2017. A new five-year contract, beginning in 2013, was approved by The Summit League’s Presidents Council. The agreement includes an option for five additional years that would keep the league’s premier event in South Dakota’s largest city from 2018-22.
“This long-term agreement is a testament to the great support that the community of Sioux Falls has shown for our marquee event,” said Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple. “It also speaks to the outstanding support from all our tournament sponsors and the professionalism of the Sioux Falls Sports Authority and its volunteers. The efforts of those groups have been instrumental in creating an incredible event for our league.”
Sioux Falls Arena will host The Summit League Championships for two more seasons before the event moves into the new 12,000-seat Denny Sanford Events Center in 2015.
“The Sioux Falls Sports Authority is thrilled to bring this tremendous collegiate sporting event back to Sioux Falls for several years to come,” said Sioux Falls Sports Authority Executive Director Mike Sullivan. “The Summit League Tournament will be a great tenant for the new Denny Sanford Events Center when it opens and continue as a great event for the city of Sioux Falls. I am thrilled that the citizens of our great city and the State of South Dakota have taken to this tournament and made it such a big part of the sports scene here in Sioux Falls.”
“Six years ago, The Sioux Falls Sports Authority set our sights on bringing national and international sporting events to Sioux Falls. The Summit League basketball tournament delivered on that promise,” said Kevin Lampe, Chair, Sioux Falls Sports Authority Board. “With this event comes national television and media exposure for our great community that will reach millions of sports fans across the nation for the next five years.”
The Summit League has held its marquee event in Sioux Falls since 2009 and attendance records have been set in each of the four years at the site. The top four total attendance figures, which combine the men’s and women’s tournament totals, have all been achieved in Sioux Falls. The 2012 Summit League Basketball Championships drew 40,269 spectators, topping the previous record, set in 2009, by nearly six thousand.
The Summit League ranked No. 12 nationally, fourth among traditional mid-majors, for overall men’s attendance in 2012. Last season’s event saw the third-highest men’s tournament attendance (22,423) and the fourth-best men’s championship game crowd (6,526). Both were The Summit League’s highest totals in nearly two decades.
All four of The Summit League’s top women’s tournament and women’s championship game totals have come in Sioux Falls. The 2012 women’s tournament total (17,867) broke the previous mark set in 2009. The championship game record (5,580), set in 2009, was nearly equaled last season.
In 2012, The Summit League’s women’s tournament attendance, both average and overall, was the highest of any league outside the “power six” conferences. With a No. 6 average attendance figure, The Summit League finished ahead of the Pac-12. The league’s men’s tournament attendance average ranked 12th nationally, placing it fourth-highest among traditional mid-majors.
The 2013 tournament makes Sioux Falls the longest-running continuous host for The Summit League Basketball Championships. Springfield, Mo., hosted five consecutive men’s tournaments from 1984-87 and again in 1989 after the tournament was on a one-year hiatus.
Since moving to Sioux Falls in 2009, The Summit League Basketball Championships have set marks for tickets sales and corporate sponsorships and provided unprecedented television coverage. In all four years, every men’s and women’s game has been televised live, including the men’s championship games on ESPN2 and women’s title games on ESPNU. The 2009 championship games marked the first time that sporting events originating from South Dakota were televised live to a national audience.
The 2013 Championships mark the second consecutive year that all 14 games will air on national cable television. Fox College Sports returns the men’s and women’s quarterfinals and semifinals to its airwaves while the ESPN Family of Networks will broadcast the championship games.