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Nov. 7, 2019
This paid piece is sponsored by the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
The Sioux Falls Skyforce head into their 31st season looking for a championship accompanied by a fan experience unique within the NBA G League and the city.
The team will host their home opener at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Sanford Pentagon versus Salt Lake City. With help from NBA affiliate Miami Heat and their need to get younger players experience, there will be plenty of new additions on and off the court.
“We’re very proud of how we’ve been part of the basketball scene in this state and this city at the pro level,” Skyforce president Mike Heineman said.
There are reasons for that. Do things the right way a few years in a row and it becomes a habit. Do it for three decades and it’s a legacy.
“We’ve won a lot of games, which is nice, and we’ve helped a lot of young men fulfill their dreams coming through our team to the NBA,” Heineman said. “It’s cool on a lot of levels. I get a lot of young people applying for jobs with us who will say, ‘I grew up going to Skyforce games.’ That’s always good to hear. A lot of our kids who start out on the ball crew are now starting families, and they’re coming in and buying season tickets. Now, they have young kids who want to go to games.”
If you’re thinking of bringing your family to a game, hosting a corporate event or treating yourself to courtside seats, those opportunities are going to be there for you at the Pentagon during the 2019-20 season.
Here’s what you need to know.
Let’s start with the kids. That’s always where the Skyforce start.
On Saturdays, the Skyforce host youth basketball games all day on the Heritage Court and give them the opportunity to watch the Skyforce game that night. Every other game, the players put together a high-five fan tunnel for introductions. Kids also have the opportunity to be flag holders and get in on performing with dance or karate teams before halftime promotions and during timeouts.
Photo by Dave Eggen/NBAE via Getty Images
“We try to get as many kids as possible involved,” Heineman said. “When kids show up, their parents show up. I remember in fourth grade I got to play at the halftime of a South Dakota State game at the Arena. It was a great childhood memory. We try to offer some of the same kinds of opportunities.”
Kids also can sign up for the Kids’ Club, presented by Dacotah Bank. It’s free for anyone age 5 to 15 and offers exclusive benefits: free Skyforce tickets on Kids’ Club Night, a monthly newsletter, discounted Skyforce merchandise and more. Click here to register.
Over the years, Heineman and the Skyforce have a well-established reputation for providing compelling halftime entertainment. They have a pretty well-honed method for deciding who to bring back from season to season.
“We’ve had some duds in here over the years,” Heineman said, laughing. “When people don’t clap, you know. But when you do find something new and it hits a home run, it makes everybody feel pretty good.”
One of those home runs is the Chicago Boyz Acrobatic Team. They will be at Sunday’s game.
“We’ve had them come in forever,” Heineman said. “It’s a great show, and they’re awesome guys.”
Changes include a new vendor operating the concession areas. That will include different concession items but also more places to get food and refreshments.
“They’re building new concession areas in the suite area and in the concourse,” Heineman said. “It’s more opportunities to buy different things with fewer lines.”
Looking for somewhere to eat or grab a drink before or after the game? New this season, the recently expanded Blue Rock Bar & Grill offers a broad menu with something for everyone. It’s an easy walk from the Pentagon.
The Skyforce continue to offer opportunities to experience games with a selection of suites that are not like any other. The view of the game is unique, as are the amenities.
“With the game-day suites we sell, it’s one of the coolest viewing perspectives you’ll find,” Heineman said. “The suites where you’re 20 feet in the air and you’re basically hanging over the court — you just don’t see them in sports. Suites in most places are located way back, and you’re way up high and away from the action. It’s a great experience for fans. You’re basically in the game.”
The same goes for courtside seats.
“It’s always fascinating to me that you’re able to sit right on the playing surface,” Heineman said. “In no other sport can you do that.”
It’s an opportunity that will be available throughout the season. Representatives can be contacted at 605-332-0605 to schedule a group outing or the chance to entertain clients.
On the court, the Skyforce will be led by new head coach Eric Glass. He has been part of the Heat organization for nine years, most recently as video coordinator, player development coach and Summer League coach the past two seasons.
“When I was with the Heat during the Summer League, almost everybody from their staff, from PR directors to strength and conditioning coaches to the athletic trainers all the way to head coach Erik Spoelstra, all came up to me individually and told me how lucky we are to have him,” Heineman said. “It was something they didn’t have to do. They didn’t have to come up to me at all, but they did. That gives me a lot confidence.”
Heineman has since watched Glass run a practice. He likes what he sees.
“He’s a different type of coach,” Heineman said. “He’s super-detailed, and he commands respect. In his first meeting with players, I was so impressed with how he commanded the room. He had no fear.”
The Heat have proven that they see Sioux Falls and the players they send here as a vital step in sustaining competitiveness at the highest level.
Proof is in players like Duncan Robinson, a former University of Michigan player who was with the Skyforce the past season.
On Sunday, he scored 23 points in a Heat win over the Houston Rockets. This year’s Duncan Robinson? It could be Chris Silva, a 6-foot-8, four-year player at South Carolina in his first season of professional basketball.
“He’s already contributed good minutes for the Heat,” Heineman said. “He’ll be spending a lot of time with us.”
Fans also will get to see 2019 second-round draft pick KZ Okpala, a former Stanford standout.
“Miami has lots of player-development needs this year,” Heineman said. “I know they’re going to be using us for that. Sioux Falls will see a good amount of NBA players on our roster all year.”
The Sioux Falls Skyforce head into their 31st season looking for a championship accompanied by a fan experience unique within the NBA G League and within the city.