No changes to Corn Palace basketball slate, restrictions deferred to host schools

Aside from citywide mask mandate, host schools and entities dictate fan attendance for Corn Palace basketball events.

Bridgewater-Emery fans cheer during a basketball game against Langford Area in the Hanson Classic on Jan. 20 at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

The COVID-19 pandemic will not halt basketball at the Corn Palace this winter.

One of the most popular basketball venues in South Dakota is planning to host its usual batch of games and classics this year as the Corn Palace has left the host school to determine COVID-19 precautions, save for Mitchell’s citywide mask ordinance, which will be enforced for all events this year.

The Corn Palace will play host to home games for the Mitchell High School boys and girls basketball teams, the Dakota Wesleyan University Culver’s Classic, the Hanson Classic, the Hoop City Classic and the Sacred Hoops Classic, along with an assortment of prep games.

“As of right now, all of the tournaments are a go as they’ve been held in the past,” Corn Palace Director Doug Greenway said. “Restrictions will be on masks, sanitation, social distancing and maximum occupancy. But we’ve never run into an issue with maximum occupancy. In the past, we’ve had maybe 2,000 people for the Hanson Classic. We’ll monitor that, but there don’t seem to be any issues.”

Dakota Wesleyan has already limited fans to 150 people and have totaled a maximum of 110 during a game this season. Meanwhile, Mitchell will carry fall fan attendance guidelines into the winter, as players, coaches, cheerleaders and managers are allotted four tickets for each game.


Mitchell has implemented its own mask mandate, which extends to coaches, trainers, managers and players on the bench. The Corn Palace mask mandate does not apply to active sports participants, so if the host school has no such mandate, coaches and players are not required to wear masks during the course of a game.

Mitchell High School fans celebrate a 3-pointer during a boys basketball game against Spearfish on Feb. 8 at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Greenway also said Hoop City Classic has requested 50% occupancy, which would mean 1,400 fans for each game. Sacred Hoops, meanwhile, is planning for 18 teams over nine games. Following each game at the Corn Palace, locker rooms will be scrubbed upon vacancy .

“We have to sanitize the locker room and it has to sit for a time period so that the chemical has a chance to work,” Greenway said. “Right now we need about 30 minutes minimum to clean the area with our fogging machine and antiviral spray. That’s going to take some additional time, but already have that when we clean locker rooms between games.”

The Mitchell City Council has not had formal discussions about city-mandated fan restrictions, according to Greenway, while Mitchell School District has also not discussed decreasing fan attendance yet.

Mitchell is currently in Phase 2, just as it had been during the fall and moving to Phase 3 would limit attendance to family members . Phase 4 would mean playing without any fans in the crowd.

Any changes to policy will be dependent on local and statewide cases and the current state of the pandemic was not deemed dire enough to alter plans as the Kernels are slated to play their first home game of the season against Huron in a boys-girls doubleheader Saturday.


Davison County had 484 active COVID-19 cases, with 2,392 cases and 42 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the South Dakota Department of Health’s daily report on Tuesday.

“We expect people to follow the rules,” Mitchell Activities Director Cory Aadland said. “We’re doing these things because we want to see these winter seasons through to the end. We’re not just trying to play one game Saturday. People need to understand that all the people are coming to watch high school kids.

“We don’t want to shut down and we don’t want to end the season early,” Aadland continued. “We just ask people to take some personal responsibility. If it’s not for them, then do it for the kids that they’re coming to watch.”

Avon serves as the host school in a girls basketball game against Castlewood Friday in the first prep contest at the Corn Palace this year. Kimball/White Lake and Freeman play in boys basketball action on Dec. 14.

2020-2021 Corn Palace basketball classic schedule

Dec. 28-30 — Hoop City Classic

Jan. 2 — Sacred Hoops Classic


Jan. 16 — Hanson Girls Classic

Jan. 23 — Hanson Boys Classic

Feb. 12 — DWU Girls Culver’s Classic

Feb. 13 — DWU Boys Culver’s Classic

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