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Official Review by Marcus Traxler, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
With two new arenas built in the city since 2013 (the other being the 12,000-seat Sanford Premier Center), Sioux Falls has become a shining location on the national map for new athletic facilities. The home of the D-League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce, the Sanford Pentagon is the other half of that success.
For nearly 20 years, the Skyforce were members of the Continental Basketball Association and played at the Sioux Falls Arena, an aging and antiquated facility opened in 1961. But in 2006, the Force moved to the NBA Developmental League and made the Pentagon home in 2013 when it opened. The Skyforce have been exclusively a Miami Heat affiliate since 2013 and changed their colors to match the Heat at that time.
The five-sided, 160,000-square foot facility is unique, with six basketball courts surrounding Heritage Court, the primary game court where the Skyforce play. The exterior courts are used for basketball and volleyball, among other sports, which the Pentagon has made use of for youth tournaments.
The Heritage Court successfully attempts to hearken back to the 1950s and old-time basketball while incorporating modern technology. The old-time touches include the keyhole-shaped free throw lane, throwback advertising, and manual clocks that include a second hand. The retro-feel meshes well with the modern video boards and 18 suites in the building, fitting perfectly in a basketball-loving state like South Dakota.
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There are three concession areas in the concourse of the Pentagon, which circles Heritage Court. There's also a bar area on the second level of the arena, which has a birds-eye view of the action from drink rails.
For the most part, the Pentagon's fare is mostly standard. Hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, miniature pizzas, taco-in-a-bag are among the notable items. The prices are around average, with cheeseburgers at $6, popcorn at $4, and nachos for $3.50.
The concessions sell Coke products with 24 and 32-ounce options at $3 and $4, respectively.
The Pentagon does sell beer and alcohol, with $8, 25-ounce cans of beer being the most popular. The typical Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light and Rolling Rock options are available. There's also a few craft beer options for $7 but those include most of the national names, as well.
The Pentagon serves as an ideal D-League facility. It seats about 3,200 fans, avoiding the cavernous effect that can occur in larger facilities that end up with swaths of empty seats. Fans are close to the action, which is important for a league that has athletic standouts trying to reach the NBA. For the most part, the fans are involved with the game, both during the play and when the game is stopped for the in-game entertainment.
The one critique of the Pentagon for D-League games is the modern pop music that's played during the game doesn't really mesh that well with the retro-feel of the arena. It's the odd situation that happens when an NBA D-League team plays in a throwback arena meant to make you think of basketball in a different era.
The facility is located at the larger Sanford Sports Complex, a large tract of land that includes nine full-sized football fields, an arena with three sheets of ice, an indoor tennis center with six courts and a fieldhouse for sports training. The Pentagon is at the center of those venues, which have all been built within the last five years. The entire complex is located less than two miles from the Sioux Falls Regional Airport and is located in the northwest part of the city.
With that said, some business development has joined the complex. The lone walking distance restaurant is a Beef O'Brady's across the street from the Pentagon. There's also a Fairfield Inn and Suites on the campus, as well.
The Skyforce have generally drawn well in Sioux Falls, drawing about 3,900 fans per game all-time and around 3,000 fans per game in the last few years. That's another reason why the move to the Pentagon makes sense because they'll be playing in front of a mostly full arena each night. While there's a few diehards, most of the fans are casual followers of the team and area residents have done their part to claim the Skyforce as their own.
There's plenty of parking near the arena and the Pentagon is easily accessible from both Interstate 29 and Interstate 90. The best option is to exit Interstate 29 from Exit 82 and take Benson Road east, where it essentially feeds into the Sanford Sports Complex. The arena is located less than two miles from Sioux Falls Regional Airport.
One great thing about the Skyforce setup at the Pentagon is that there are a lot of good seats that can be had for a reasonable price. Corner seats are $10, but are really more like high sideline seats. There's also $20 and $30 sections and then courtside seating starting at $75.
The end zone seats are not great but they're cheap, starting at $6 for those with special needs and $8 for the rest of the bench seats. If you can get a spot on the sideline, you're going to have a good time watching the game.
The retro scoreboards are more for show than anything else but they are an authentic throwback to a time before electronic scoreboards were the norm. They're cool to watch in action and they also drive home the old-time motif nicely.
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4501 W Empire Pl,
Sioux Falls, SD 57106