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Official Review by Marcus Traxler, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The DakotaDome has been the home of University of South Dakota basketball since 1979. Since the state-owned facility was opened as the only dome in the Rushmore State, the building has been a bit of a bugaboo. The facility’s original air-inflated, Teflon roof ripped twice within the first three seasons the building opened and a metal roof finally replaced the white top in 2001. While the building has been serviceable for football, that has never been the case for the Coyotes’ basketball teams.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The DakotaDome doesn't have any concession items that will amaze, but the lineup is solid. A Pepsi facility, a 24-ounce soda is $2.25, which is almost unbeatable when it comes to typical arena prices. Compare that to the most recent pro sporting event you went to?
Sheboygan Sausage Company provides the hot dogs, which go for $3.25. Pair those two items with a bag of chips for $6.00 and you have yourself a pretty good deal for dinner. Nachos run a reasonable $2.75 and there is a veggie burger option for $3, which I think is a nice move for a smaller-scale facility. Pizza Hut pizza is available at $3.25 per slice.
Aside from the price of a soda, the rates don't surprise the consumer much, but I do like the variety of options. Considering how the rest of the Dome stacks up, the food options are good ones.
For the most part, basketball and domes don't mix. Because the DakotaDome has permanent seats on one side and no seats in the football endzones, South Dakota can't put the court on one end and bring a curtain across to close off the rest of the facility and create a more intimate environment. Instead, the DakotaDome can't act like anything other than a football field and indoor track with a basketball court dropped in the middle of it. The scoreboards and videoboard are far from the action and unless you are courtside, the action feels far away.
You do get used to the Dome but that's only after you block out everything else and focus on the court. USD is working on building a new basketball arena and they need a new facility as much as any Division I program in the country. The Coyotes do the best they can but the Dome doesn't really work for basketball.
There's not a ton of original restaurant options in Vermillion. Pro's Bar and Grill is within a stone's throw of the DakotaDome and is a good bar to hang out with some of the Coyote faithful. Fast food chains like McDonald's is down the street on Cherry Ave., and Burger King and Taco John's are also along Vermillion's main drag. Carey's Bar is downtown and is a common spot for socializing for students but there's no food at Carey's.
Students at USD have a reputation of fickle attendance at sporting events and despite showing up well for the game against in-state rival South Dakota State, a sparse crowd is mostly the case for the rest of the home schedule.
The move to Division I has taken a toll on keeping fans and while they can get into the game often, it will take time for the Coyotes to earn them back into the seats again. The courtside seats opposite the team benches are in front of the synthetic track, allowing for the closest view of the action before the slope of permanent seats begins up the east side of the Dome.
Vermillion, a city of about 10,000 on the banks of the Missouri River in southeastern South Dakota is about 45 minutes from Sioux City, Iowa and an hour from Sioux Falls. The city is about five miles off Interstate 29 (Exit 26). If you're heading right for the Dome, you can take the Highway 50 bypass which runs past the DakotaDome. If not, turn on North Dakota Street and you can't miss the structure, which is visible for miles on a clear day. Parking is available on three sides of the Dome.
The basketball in the Summit League is decent. USD is in its second year as a full Division I member after years in Division II, and the Coyotes are coming into their own as a basketball program. The tickets are reasonable by comparison to other schools but $20 for an adult and $10 for kids is tough when the building is a poor place to watch a basketball game. The sightlines are not bad if your seats are near center court but if you're near the endlines, plan on having a sore neck.
For all of the flaws, there is one true home court advantage for South Dakota. The facility is one of the few true domes in college basketball and it does provide for a unique experience for players and fans alike. Like playing basketball on a treeless island, shooting in the facility can be a real bear for many visiting opponents.
Still, getting to see a game in one of only five true domes in Division I college basketball (Syracuse, Idaho, Idaho State, and Northern Arizona) is kind of a unique, if less than ideal experience.
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912 N Dakota St
Vermillion, SD 57069
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