OUR VIEW: Get Mitchell back in rotation for tournaments
It's state basketball tournament time, and with it comes the annual thrill of championships, great sportsmanship and lasting memories.
Oh, and the headaches associated with finding hotel rooms.
The state Class AA girls' basketball tournament gets under way Thursday in Brookings, and for those who wish to attend, we truly hope you called ahead early. A brief check of that city's hotels showed that, for the most part, there are no vacancies in Brookings. As of late Tuesday afternoon, one hotel (the Comfort Inn) reported it had a few rooms available thanks to a recent cancellation, and two others (Fairfield Inn and Holiday Inn) had rooms available for Thursday night, but not Friday or Saturday. We suspect those vacancies were a hot commodity.
That's why we're once again disappointed with how state tournament sites are awarded.
Mitchell, we have noted many times, has been removed from the list of hosting basketball tournaments. The South Dakota High School Activities Association has deemed the Corn Palace too small to host, so we're out of the loop, just like that.
Meanwhile, Brookings has a larger arena that can easily hold the crowds of a Class AA tournament, yet the town doesn't have nearly as many hotel rooms as Mitchell.
Mitchell has 1,092 hotel rooms. Brookings has approximately 615.
The result is a difference of approximately 477 rooms. Anyone who comes to the games this week in Brookings probably will get a seat in Frost Arena, but fans better have called well in advance if they hope to spend a night in a Brookings hotel.
One problem in Brookings this weekend is that the state Class AA girls' tournament is being held the same weekend as the state hockey tournament. That has created a rush for rooms, and it's something the SDHSAA needs to consider when awarding sites in the future.
Our suggestion: Unless it's a large city -- Rapid City or Sioux Falls, for instance -- SDHSAA tournaments should not be awarded to a city unless it's the only show in town on that date.
It's nice that people will be able to have a place to sit in the arena, but they'll be grumbling as they have to drive to Watertown, Madison or Sioux Falls to spend the night between games.
Once again, we say this: Put Mitchell back in the rotation to host certain state tournaments.