The official announcement and groundbreaking ceremony for the Midco Arena took place Oct. 5 at the location of the new $40 million hockey arena, across from the Elmen Center at 33rd and Grange.
Sioux Falls mayor Paul Tenhaken, president Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and athletic director Josh Morton took the podium in front of donors, media, students and members of the community to unveil the design for the men’s hockey stadium.
“In the fall of 2023, the puck drops right here at Augustana University in the Midco Arena,” Herseth Sandlin said. “This fabulous Midco Arena, planned for 3,000 seats, as well as luxury suites, providing a first-class experience for both student-athletes and sports fans alike.”
The arena was set forward by donations from T. Denny Sanford, Midco, Sanford Health and several other donors, according to GoAugie.
Tenhaken took the mic first, joking about the Minnesota Vikings’ early season woes. He then spoke about the arena’s importance to Sioux Falls.
“Today is about bringing a hometown hockey team to Sioux Falls — something that I feel is going to change the landscape of not only sports in our community, but of our community as a whole,” Tenhaken said. “On behalf of the city of Sioux Falls, we couldn’t be more excited about this.”
T. Denny Sanford, who gave the largest donation that Augustana University has ever received, was in attendance.
“This is an exciting day,” Sanford said. “I was raised in a hockey family in St. Paul, Minnesota. What this is going to do for Sioux Falls and Augie fans, I think it’s a major, major impact on the community as well as the college.”
The facility was first imagined by JLG Architects. Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate has been selected to manage the design, development and construction of the arena.
The arena will host the men’s hockey program, with a full sheet of ice and seating, but with the size and space available, the department will be looking into how it can capitalize on the opportunity for other programs as well.
“For sure it’ll be the home of the hockey program,” Morton said. “Then other potential locker rooms, [a] strength and conditioning center, those kinds of things. We have the overall footprint, but now it’s getting into what’s on the inside.”
Morton also said the possibility of uses for the new arena will span beyond athletics. Students and faculty will be able to use it as a place for meetings, welcome week activities and tours of the campus.
With the addition of hockey, Augustana will become the first college in South Dakota to have this program at the D1 level. The growing youth hockey community in Sioux Falls will be able to work with Augustana to give young hockey players the ability to play for their hometown team.
Morton said the goal for the team is to have a coach in place in summer 2022, and the search for their home conference is underway.
NCAA men’s hockey is currently set up in six conferences. The three conferences that align with Augustana geographically are the Big Ten, Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC). Current primary NSIC companions Mankato State and Bemidji State are currently in the CCHA, along with first-year St. Thomas. Meanwhile, Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State are in the NCHC.
“Denny, you started something awfully special,” Morton said. “We can’t wait for Augustana hockey in 2023.