Thousands of people that are fans of the 14 high school football teams began arriving in Vermillion Thursday as the annual South Dakota High School Activity Football Championship kicked off in the DakotaDome.
When they stepped into the sports venue, for many it marked the first time they’ve entered the Dome since its 18-month, $26.3 million renovation. Included in this renovation was the addition of expanded permanent seating, loges and club seating, updated locker rooms, as well as the addition of concessions and main entrances on the west side of the Dome.
One of the region’s most recognizable, man-made landmarks, the DakotaDome has served as the cornerstone of Coyote athletics for decades. Originally constructed in 1979, the 9,100-seat facility was one of the first multi-purpose domes in the nation. Today, it serves as home for Coyote football, indoor track and field, and swimming and diving. Basketball and volleyball competed in the Dome before the Sanford Coyote Sports Center came online in 2016.
In addition to Coyote athletic teams and events, the DakotaDome hosts many other events. The championship games of the state high school football playoffs take place annually inside the Dome. The DAKOTA Farm Show has called the Dome home for more than 30 years. The facility also hosts community youth events, including camps and high school track meets, and graduation ceremonies.
South Dakota completed an 18-month, $26 million renovation to the west side of the DakotaDome in the summer of 2020. This “first phase” featured two new entrances to the facility, bringing the total to four main entrances. It also included a new football locker room that covers more than 6,000 square feet and boasts 110 individual lockers.
The most noticeable improvement for fans are the installation of permanent seating throughout the west side, the addition of loge boxes and suites right above the sidelines, and a new modern concourse with an industrial kitchen. New lighting and sound system also enhance the gameday experience.
STILL TO COME
The second phase of this renovation is currently underway and focuses primarily on the 400 level on the west side. That’s where football offices and meeting spaces are being designed. The expected completion date for that project is January of 2021. In addition, the west side will also see the creation of a new equipment room and athletic training space on the 100 level.
These improvements ultimate pave the way for others. Locker rooms and office spaces on the east side for coaches and support staff will be updated and reassigned. There are plans for new playing surfaces for both football and track. A modern concourse and fan amenities will be installed on the east side.
DakotaDome amenities include Coyote Landing – a gathering area on the northeast side of the facility. Similar spaces have been created on the northwest and southwest sides with the renovation. The Dome Club is a spectacular space featured behind the south wall where patrons can gather and oversee the action on the field.
The playing surface for football is AstroTurf PureGrass, and a high-definition video board from Daktronics was installed ahead of the 2016 campaign.