Numbers show Palace large enough: Average girls state tourney crowd would fit in Mitchell facilityIn the past 10 years, attendance numbers at the Class A and B girls’ basketball tournaments were at their peaks when hosted by Mitchell’s Corn Palace.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
In the past 10 years, attendance numbers at the Class A and B girls’ basketball tournaments were at their peaks when hosted by Mitchell’s Corn Palace.
The Class B girls’ state basketball tournament was in Mitchell in 2005 and the Class A tournament was in town in 2006. The Class B tournament sold 11,783 tickets over three days and the Class A tournament sold 13,600 in three days. Both of those numbers were 10-year highs from 2003 to 2012.
“I think that tells you the Corn Palace is a great host and Mitchell is in a good location,” Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling said. “ … For the activities association, they have to ask the question whether or not the Corn Palace is large enough to host a state event. We at the Corn Palace think it is. We’d love to be back in the rotation for it, and hopefully at some point we can.”
After being host for consecutive years in 2005-2006, the South Dakota High School Activities Association deemed the Corn Palace too small, and Mitchell hasn’t hosted a state basketball tournament since. Yet, out of 180 total sessions at girls’ basketball state tournaments for the past decade, only six sessions have surpassed the capacity of the Corn Palace. There are six sessions at each of three tournaments each year.
This year’s girls’ state basketball tournaments begin Thursday at Huron, Watertown and Rapid City.
Schilling said he remembers the “full-house crowd” when the Corn Palace hosted tournaments, but he said no one was turned away or denied entrance to the games.
Schilling said the Corn Palace’s capacity during a basketball game is 2,989. The Corn Palace can hold 300 additional people who can be in the lobby, watching the game on television screens.
SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director John Krogstrand said one of the main requirements to host a girls’ basketball state tournament is 5,400 seats for a championship session. For a boys’ state basketball tournament, the requirement is 7,000 seats for a championship session. Another requirement to host a state tournament includes allowing adequate areas for student and adult fan cheering sections.
“Each local city or site or school is given the opportunity to indicate their interest for these tournaments on an every-year basis based on these requirements,” Krogstrand said. “If that’s something Mitchell wanted to pose the question … if anybody wanted to pose the question that they think they can accommodate this, they can make that expression to our board.”
According to attendance totals The Daily Republic obtained from the SDSHAA, the Corn Palace would usually be a suitable option to host a state tournament.
The Class AA state girls’ tournament has been the least-attended state basketball tournament on average in the past 10 years, but five times since 2006 there have been ticket sales of more than 3,200 in a session, which is more than the Corn Palace can hold.
Class AA girls’ basketball state tournaments averaged 1,595 tickets sold per session for the past 10 years. That number does not include anyone who used their season pass at the venue to gain entrance, students or adults. Season passes can add up to a few hundred fans per session. Class B girls’ basketball averaged 1,605 tickets sold per session and Class A averaged 1,781 per session over the past 10 years.
The capacity number at the Corn Palace has only been surpassed once since 2005 in Class B girls’ basketball at other venues, when Watertown hosted in 2010 and 3,035 tickets were sold for the championship session. In Class A girls’ state basketball, no single session has surpassed 2,850 for ticket sales.
“If attendance numbers continue and the activities association looks at it and realizes we could have it at the Corn Palace, it would be great to be back in the rotation and hosting state high school basketball tournaments,” Schilling said.
Since at least 2007, adding seats to the Corn Palace or building a bigger arena has been discussed in Mitchell. Talks were sparked after the SDHSAA pulled the Corn Palace from its rotation of state hosts, and a movement began in Mitchell that culminated in a public vote on a tax increase to fund a new arena. The tax increase was rejected, and since then other ideas have been discussed, including an expansion of the Corn Palace and the construction of a new arena, pool and wellness center with Dakota Wesleyan University and Avera. Nothing has caught on, and now the city plans to renovate the Corn Palace without adding any seating.
By the numbers
By The Daily Republic
The Corn Palace’s capacity for a basketball game is 2,989, which would have been capable of holding an average state girls’ basketball tournament session over the past 10 years.
The numbers below, which show the average per-session attendance at each of the state girls’ basketball tournaments for the past decade, do not include season-ticket passes, which could add up to a few hundred fans per session.
- Class AA: 1,595.
- Class A: 1,781.
- Class B: 1,605.