University of South Dakota students had better get used to standing on shoddy bleachers and staring at concrete walls hidden conspicuously behind large black curtains.
Because, as announced last week, plans to renovate the DakotaDome have been cancelled.
USD administrators have placed the project, which would have been a part of the addition of a new sports arena, on the “back burner” due to worries of inflation.
While the exclusion of the project reduced the overall cost from $70 million to $58 million, the university will be losing something much more important than money by axing this project.
Although the football team’s performance has been far from ideal this season, it is in the university’s benefit to provide the best possible environment to foster a successful football program.
Shouldn’t a university that spends the largest percentage of its athletic budget on football consistently work toward improving each aspect of the program, including its facilities?
Needless to say, it is odd to see the athletic department overlook its primary investment with such ease.
It is safe to say that during game days, spectators do not find themselves distracted by the ever-so bland aesthetics of the DakotaDome.
In fact, the structural dysfunction has been noted as one of the issues behind lack of student retention.
It can’t possibly hurt for the athletic department to improve its primary profiteer’s facility; in fact an improved DakotaDome could boost a team’s moral. So, what is there to lose?
Let us not forget, updated facilities wouldn’t hurt recruiting either.
Game day environment could be the buying or selling point for any uncertain prospect.
Set aside the benefits USD and the football program would gain by investing $12 million into the DakotaDome, there are other athletic institutions being negatively effected by last week’s announcement.
For example, as a part of renovations, the school had plans to put in a new swimming pool.
While the swimming and diving team’s current pool is by no means unacceptable, dangling the idea of a new pool in front of the teams’ only to snatch it away is more than discouraging.
On the other hand, it is hard to disagree with the university’s need to construct a new basketball and volleyball arena.
By no means should administrators trade out a new arena for dome renovations.
That would be ludicrous.
The university should be encouraged to invest while they can.
Mere maintenance over the course of five years is going to set the DakotaDome back even further, lessening its value more and more as time goes on.
Maybe the next time the university considers major renovations the price may have doubled.
Maybe by then, USD will consider tearing down the structure and start from scratch.
The university should seriously reconsider its decision to throw out plans on renovations to the DakotaDome.
While it may be looking out for the well being of the entire athletic program, it is overlooking a few festering wounds that, if left alone, could inadvertently weaken the whole.