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South Dakota State announces $50 million renovation for new sports arena

Facility will be called First Bank and Trust Arena

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Artist's renderings of a renovated Frost Arena in Brookings, which will take on the name of First Bank and Trust Arena. (Courtesy of South Dakota State University)

BROOKINGS — South Dakota State University announced plans Monday to renovate Frost Arena, with Brookings-based First Bank and Trust donating $20 million to kickstart the renovations of the facility.

First Bank and Trust will take over the naming rights of the 50-year-old building, which will be called First Bank and Trust Arena. The overall cost of the renovation is expected to be $50 million and is pending approval from the South Dakota Board of Regents.

The project will need South Dakota legislative approval and is expected to be completed over two years. SDSU games will continued to be played in the facility during construction, SDSU athletic director Justin Sell said Monday. If the legislative approval could be gained in the spring, construction would begin in summer 2022 and SDSU could have the arena finished for the 2023-24 athletic season.

"The long-standing generosity of First Bank and Trust and the Fishback family continues to have a major impact on our university," said SDSU President Barry Dunn in a statement. "The generous gifts provided over many years have been important to the success of our students, faculty, alumni and also the community of Brookings. Because of this gift, the renovation of Frost Arena will allow us to improve a facility that is home to many events, including Jackrabbits athletics, commencement, concerts, and lectures, and continue its rich history of being a regional center of activity for the state and the university."

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Artist's renderings of a new club room area at the current Frost Arena in Brookings, which will take on the name of First Bank and Trust Arena when the renovation is completed. (Courtesy of South Dakota State University)

The facility hosts men's and women's basketball, volleyball and wrestling contests, along with SDSU's commencement ceremonies annually.

The renovation project is expected to take two years and will be done in phases to avoid relocation and interruption of SDSU events. Among the improvements will include new premium seating areas and suites, a state-of-the-art video board and display systems, an enhanced sound system, a more spacious concourse, and improved restrooms.

New and improved locker rooms and offices are also a part of the design for the renovated arena, which will have an estimated capacity of 5,500. The current facility seats 6,500 for basketball, but drew more than 9,000 fans when the building was exclusively bleacher seating soon after it opened in the 1970s and 1980s.

In basketball, SDSU has enjoyed a storied home history in Frost Arena and a lot of wins. Since joining the Summit League and its first full season of Division I basketball for the 2008-09 season, the Jackrabbit men have been 156-17 in home games, and SDSU's women's squad has been 162-25 in home games.

The building was initially named after former SDSU basketball coach and athletic director Reuben B. "Jack" Frost and opened in 1973 at a cost of nearly $3.7 million. Prior to then, SDSU did not have a dedicated sports arena, playing its indoor athletic events in The Barn, the 1918-built armory. Construction plans for First Bank and Trust Arena calls for an interactive space in the new arena lobby on the southeast corner of the facility that will honor Frost Arena and house the Jackrabbit Sports Hall of Fame.

Monday's announcement follows a groundbreaking ceremony held last week for the Kurtenbach Family Wrestling Center, which will be built near Dykhouse Stadium and will provide dedicated practice space for the SDSU wrestling program. The estimated cost of that project is $4 million, scheduled to open in fall 2022.

Finishing a renovation of Frost Arena would cap an era of more than $150 million in facility investments made in Sell's athletic director tenure for SDSU, which included the $65 million football stadium opening in 2016, the $32 million Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Center indoor practice facility opening in 2014.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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