Simplified: Augustana University broke ground Tuesday on a $40 million, 3,000-seat hockey arena. It'll be the home of the school's new NCAA Division I men's hockey team set to start competing in 2023.

Why it matters

  • The Midco Arena – facilitated by a lead gift from T. Denny Sanford, Midco, Sanford Health and others – aims to house the first D-1 hockey program in the state.
  • The hockey team will also be the first D-1 team in the city and the first Augustana sport to compete at that level. The goal remains to bring other sports up to D-1 eventually, President Herseth Sandlin said.
  • It's about more than hockey, though. Herseth Sandlin said the program will "elevate the profile of the entire university" both locally and nationally.
"I think (the new program) will cause prospective students, their families, many of our alumni ... to take a closer look at what we're doing here and how we're trying to position Augustana for the longterm," Herseth Sandlin said.

Tell me more about the significance of this

Augustana in 2019 began discussing plans to move to Division I as part of the "Viking Bold" 2030 strategic plan.

Division I sports are the highest level of competition, and the hockey team will likely help Augustana recruit students, donors and national attention.

It's also significant for the city of Sioux Falls.

  • Mayor Paul TenHaken spoke at the arena groundbreaking Tuesday, commending Augustana for this move.
"This is another indication of just what a vibrant time it is in our city," TenHaken said.

What are the unanswered questions?

The biggest unanswered question is which Division I conference the Augustana hockey team will join.

Another big question is who will coach the new team.

  • Athletic Director Josh Morton said the plan is to have a coach in place by next summer, giving the coach a full year to recruit the inaugural lineup.

What happens next?

In part, the next step is to answer the above questions.

Beyond that, the Midco Arena is expected to host the first men's hockey game in 2023.