With 15 yards of turf removed from its southern end, the DakotaDome’s football field does not look to be game-ready, but on Saturday the Dome will host its first full football game since having its walls busted open this summer during construction on the new Sports Performance Enhancement Arena.
The game will be the next big step in the $66 million project’s construction for the University of South Dakota’s athletic department, which is on pace for its completion next fall, according to the university’s facilities management.
“Right now we’re looking five steps down the road but our most important step is always in front of us,” USD Athletic Director David Herbster said. “The weather has cooperated. The crews have cooperated. And we haven’t run into many problems along the construction process.”
One level above where Briar Cliff and Presentation College will take the field, two streams of light enter around doors next to the weight room and visitor seating. It’s the only visual of the arena’s intrusion into the Dome from within.
On the outside of the Dome though, it’s a very different story.
The basketball-volleyball arena’s shell is visible from Highway 50 that runs north of town. And just a block away, the Outdoor Track and Soccer Complex is taking shape.
The track’s completion date is set for next spring, just before Vermillion hosts the Spring 2016 Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Sports Information Director Bryan Boettcher said extra educational and USD Foundation fundraising for the project has allowed for added structures to be built in the new arena as well as at the outdoor track.
Herbster said additions to the project, such as greater soil replacement for the soccer field, have been added to construction plans. Not all additions are noticeable, but they will vastly improve the project’s value, Herbster said.
By mid-October, the new facilities will look ready to be used, but the department will have to be patient.
“It’s like Christmas,” Herbster said. “At first we saw the tree. Then we saw the presents under the tree. Now everybody wants to open up the presents.”
(Photo: Construction workers work on the new DakotaDome expansion Monday afternoon. The new $66 million Sports Performance Enhancement Arena will include a basketball arena, a soccer complex and a new track. Malachi Petersen / The Volante)