From Great Shots to ‘The Sanford Mile,’ Sanford Sports Complex enters new phase of growth

Aug. 5, 2019

The approximately two dozen poles towering up to 150 above northwest Sioux Falls are symbolic in a way of what’s happening at the Sanford Sports Complex.

Things are reaching new heights – and many are taking notice.

That includes retailers, hoteliers and athletic organizations, which all are in conversations at various levels involving opportunities at the more than 400-acre development east of Interstate 29 near Benson Road and Westport Avenue.

But first, here’s the story behind the poles, which are impossible to miss.

They are part of Great Shots, the three-story golf entertainment business under construction at the Sports Complex. When done, they will hold massive nets enclosing turf.

“With three levels to the facility, golf balls will be going all over,” said Jonathan Buckley, general manager for Great Shots. “They’re (the nets are) to keep all the golf balls in play. You’re not going to score points hitting the road. And just like a driving range, you’ll see them all being picked up.”

Buckley joined Great Shots earlier this year and moved from Arizona, one of several states where he managed Topgolf venues. He’s now employed by Troon, the management company for Great Shots, which is a national manager and developer of golf courses and country clubs.

“I love it,” he said. “For the community of Sioux Falls, it’s exciting. Great Shots to me is like bowling and darts but for golf. You have a social side of things. You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy it.”

The 54,000-square-foot building will include 60 bays on three levels. The technology is powered by Big Shots, which has other golf entertainment facilities nationwide that will be networked with Great Shots for interactive competitions.

“Anyone can play it,” Buckley said. “You don’t have to physically hit the ball into a target, so everyone can enjoy it no matter where you hit the ball.”

Here’s a look at how one game will be displayed:

And here’s one that’s especially kid-friendly:

“A lot of thought went into designing the building,” Buckley added.

The facility will operate all year and was designed to block the wind. If the poles collect too much ice, they’re designed so the nets break away without taking the pole down. The tallest ones also are equipped with flashing lights for planes using the nearby airport.

“We’ll be proactive about keeping snow off the turf and will have good inventory of golf balls, and we’ll lift the net up to push snow out,” Buckley said, adding that radiant heat is above every hitting bay to keep players comfortable.

Great Shots will include a full-service sports bar and grill, with a menu that’s being developed and scheduled to be wrapped up soon. There’s also a Sanford Fit kids zone with a small climbing wall and other activities.

“And we’ll have some neat meeting and event rooms to host corporate and social events,” Buckley said. “You’ll have the ability to tap into TVs and do a presentation and then open the doors and step out and hit golf balls.”

Groups have reached out about scheduling events already, and Great Shots is holding places in the order they are approached.

“We’re getting an idea of what type of event they’re looking at, how many, the timing, and once we release pricing over the next few weeks, we’ll start to get people lined up,” Buckley said.

The hope is to open in late November assuming construction stays on schedule. Buckley has started hiring his management team and anticipates beginning to hire hourly positions in September and October. There will be 300 to 400 people needed on staff, he said.

The building has been enclosed, and framing is done on the second and third floors. Turf is scheduled to come in this month.

“If you like going bowling with family and friends, you’re going to love coming here,” Buckley said. “We’ll have a great menu, the golf game will be fun, and we’ll be able to host parties and corporate events and just have a lot of fun.”

Clinic, office space coming

Another new addition to the Sports Complex will open in the next couple of months. The 15,600-square-foot, two-story building will include a Sanford Acute Care and Orthopedic Fast Track Clinic on its first floor.

“What’s great about the site is it adds to our complement of walk-in services across Sioux Falls, so we now have northeast, southwest, northwest and downtown,” said Jon Pociask, clinic director of Sanford Acute Care.

“We heard a lot of feedback from the north side with all the development to add an additional site. You can stop in for walk-in labs anytime, it has a full X-ray service and … it’s not a primary care clinic, so any cough, sprains, strains, injuries, all non-emergency but urgent needs is what we’re geared toward.”

The clinic can accommodate 20 to 30 staff, including up to four providers, and includes an emphasis on orthopedic services.

“We have additional trained staff focused on orthopedics, with a lot of the activities out here … we’re well equipped to handle initial orthopedic injuries, get them stabilized and get them to an orthopedic surgeon if needed in quick fashion,” Pociask said.

Construction is progressing “extremely well,” he added. “We should be ready to start seeing patients around late September or early October.”

The clinic will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

About the same time, the office space above will open for The Summit League, housing the leadership of the collegiate athletic conference, which offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of almost 115,000 at nine institutions.

There is space for about 10 people plus a reception area. The staff, which relocated from Chicago, has been working from leased space in south Sioux Falls the past six months. There also is about 1,800 square feet left on the second floor where Sanford envisions locating another office tenant, although none is signed yet.

‘The Sanford Mile’

Despite all the development, about 300 acres still remain available. This fall, Sanford’s latest vision for the Sports Complex will begin to take shape.

Construction on what has been dubbed “The Sanford Mile” will begin from near the statue of Denny Sanford at Benson Road and Westport Avenue until it reaches the Pentagon.

The idea is to make the area more pedestrian-friendly by finishing off the sidewalk as a way to encourage more retail development.

The success of the nearby Fleet Farm and the anticipated success of Great Shots are combining to generate more interest, said Matt Ditmanson, director of business development for the Sanford Sports Complex.

“I think the momentum is just going to maintain,” he said.

“We’ve got an exciting anchor tenant, and the momentum is just fantastic. We’ve got a number of folks interested in development and (multiple) sites are build-ready. That was one of the benefits of bringing Fleet Farm to Sioux Falls – not just serving our guests and the residents of Sioux Falls, but from a development standpoint it’s been a catalyst for a ton of retail interest.”

The rebranded and expanded Blue Rock Bar & Grill also is exceeding projections, he said.

Hotel operators continue to ask about building at the Sports Complex, although most are proposing 80 to 100 rooms, Ditmanson said.

“We still feel the city would benefit from a full-service hotel with event space, so we’re holding out for a developer that’s interested in doing that,” he said.

Sanford also continues to envision more sports at the property, Ditmanson said, adding those would involve partnerships with user groups similar to what was done with hockey and tennis.

“We’re very interested in baseball and softball. We’re very interested in soccer. So we’ll continue to vet out those opportunities.”

From Great Shots to ‘The Sanford Mile,’ Sanford Sports Complex enters new phase of growth

“The momentum is just fantastic.” With Great Shots under construction, Fleet Farm filling up and plenty of other activity, the Sanford Sports Complex is planning for more.

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