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Daily Republic Q&A: Schilling ready to host state tourney

Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling has been busy prepping for the Class AA state volleyball tournament, which begins today.

The Corn Palace hosted a state volleyball tournament for the first time last year. The Class B tournament was in Mitchell in 2012, making this year the first time Class AA teams come to town.

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The tournament favorite is No. 1 Sioux Falls O’Gorman and No. 2 Sioux Falls Roosevelt is attempting to defend its championship.

The only new team in the tournament from last year’s field is Rapid City Central, with Mitchell the only team not returning this season. Kernels finished 9-13 in the season and were knocked out during the District 3AA elimination game against Pierre.

In an interview with The Daily Republic Tuesday, Schilling discussed what goes into hosting a state tournament. Here are some excerpts from the interview.

Q: How many people does it take to run a state tournament at the Corn Palace?

A: There is the Corn Palace side of things and the school side. Mitchell High School Activities Director Geoff Gross has about 50 to 75 people helping him out with on-court management. Then, I have about 40 to 50 people who are helping with ticket sales and concession staff.

It takes a lot of people to put on a successful tournament. There are so many people who go unthanked or unnoticed.

Q: How much revenue does the tournament bring to the Corn Palace and Mitchell?

A: All ticket sales go back to the South Dakota High School Activities Association. But we are using our Corn Palace ticketing system. People can purchase tickets online and bring them to us, and it helps out from the accounting standpoint.

We get the concessions and the facility fee, which is $1,500 for the tournament. The facility fee helps to offset our expenses, including maintenance and supplies. Concession sales vary depending what teams are in what sessions. This afternoon doesn’t look to be real busy but tonight Huron is playing, which we think will bring a good crowd.

Q: Do you think attendance will be down with Mitchell not in the tournament?

A: It might a little bit. Last year, the attendance wasn’t great at the AA tournament because it was out west. If a team keeps winning, it’s rare for people to jump in the care and drive all the way across the state to watch, but people will do that now that it’s close to most of the towns with teams in the tournament. Besides the two Rapid City teams, everybody else is a quick, easy drive to Mitchell.

Q: What goes into getting the Corn Palace ready for the tournament?

A: South Dakota Public Broadcasting is actually doing most of the work as far as all of the media stuff. They’re setting up the live feed and we’re getting that from them to put on the video screen.

Q: Do you enjoy hosting the tournament?

A: Yes. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the Corn Palace. Anytime we can get a group like this and show them a great facility, it’s going to benefit Mitchell. It will show people that the Corn Palace can do a good job hosting volleyball tournaments, not only basketball, concerts and be a tourist attraction.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.