BROOKINGS – South Dakota State University officials announced Monday that First Bank & Trust has committed a $20 million for the lead gift in renovations to Frost Arena.
With the agreement, First Bank & Trust will assume naming rights to the arena and it will now be called First Bank & Trust Arena, and will be the venue for Jackrabbit basketball, wrestling and volleyball.
“This arena has been the home for literally countless fantastic moments, impacting the lives of thousands of athletes and hundreds of thousands of fans and so much more. … As we move down our road of continuous improvement, it’s time to refresh and improve this critically important space for the next 50 years,” said SDSU President Barry Dunn.
The renovation project is expected to take two years to complete and will be done in phases to avoid relocation and interruptions of SDSU events. The new features of the renovated arena include new premium seating areas and suites, a new video board and display systems, an enhanced sound system, a more spacious concourse and improved restrooms. The estimated capacity of the arena is 5,500.
“We’ve got a pretty aggressive timeline. We’d like to get into the Board of Regents this fall and into the legislative session,” SDSU athletic director Justin Sell said. “It’s going to require us to do a little bit more fundraising. … If we can get it into legislative system this fall we’ll have a chance to build it over two seasons. We’ll build on the exterior the first year and then come in and work on the seating bowl the second year.
“We’ll have a brand new entrance on the southeast corner that will lead into a massive new concourse. … We’ll have a club room on the south side and we’ll have some suite options. We’re going to do some really special design stuff for our students and our pep band on the west side and make it a real homecourt advantage for us. I’m really excited for the different elements that are going to be a part of this building.”
The $20 million gift is the largest single gift in SDSU history. The project, pending approval from the South Dakota Board of Regents, is estimated to cost $50 million with fundraising ongoing from the SDSU foundation.
First Bank & Trust is a Brookings-based business and was founded by the Fishback family in 1880. The Fishback’s and First Bank & Trust have been long time supporters of SDSU and Jackrabbit athletics. They have given lead gifts in several academic programs, facility expansions and fundraising campaigns.
“First Bank & Trust is thrilled to partner with SDSU,” said First Bank & Trust Market President Tom Fishback. “It’s a unique opportunity to help support the institutional profile regionally, nationally and internationally of SDSU and Brookings. … During the initial meeting with [Barry Dunn and Justin Sell], we were told that there are 263 individual events that are held in this facility every year. This includes events hosted by SDSU and by stake holders in Brookings and throughout South Dakota. My question is, how long until we reach 365?”
Frost Arena has been on the SDSU campus since 1973 and it was constructed at a cost of $3.685 million. It was named after former SDSU basketball coach and athletic director R.B. “Jack” Frost.
Sell said there will be an interactive area inside First Bank & Trust Arena that will highlight the history of SDSU athletics and will be the new home of the Jackrabbit Sports Hall of Fame.
“Frost has touched all of us and so many people across this state in so many ways, and it’s certainly the most iconic building in state of South Dakota,” Sell said. “To have a chance to honor its history and tradition while we move forward is a feeling that is second to none. It was really important for us and First Bank & Trust, in our discussions, that we did honor Frost Arena and its history.
“The main concourse as you come into this building, the whole wall is going to be a timeline and really lay out all those wonderful moments and things that are part of history, so we can honor that tradition and do it the right way and we’re really excited to do that.”
SDSU is also working on building a new wrestling center and soccer stadium. There is not a specific date set for when the renovation of Frost Arena will start.