SDSU receives $10 million donation

Evan Patzwald and Jake Weber

South Dakota State University received an anonymous $10 million donation toward First Bank & Trust Arena last week, advancing preparations to get the project approved by the Board of Regents.

The overall cost of the project is projected at $50 million and needs approval from the Board in December before they can begin construction this summer.

The gift comes after the announcement back in September that SDSU received a lead gift of $20 million from First Bank & Trust to start the project. With the initial donation, First Bank & Trust reserved the naming rights to the facility. The donation was the largest single gift in the history of the university.

SDSU coaches are excited for a new fan experience and new coaching opportunities at a renovated Frost Arena.

Volleyball coach Dan Georgalas said the new Frost Arena will bring more momentum to a volleyball program that is currently in their best season since 2012.

“SDSU volleyball is back,” Georgalas said after the initial announcement of the renovation. The volleyball team is celebrating the 20th anniversary of SDSU volleyball’s Division II championship, and Georgalas believes new facilities and a new arena are just what the program needs to put them over the top.

Georgalas is also excited for a new fan experience brought by a new indoor arena.

“It’s about time fans get treated to a top-notch-facility,” Georgalas said.

Georgalas said any student or casual fan will be excited when walking into a new stadium, and they will bring that excitement into the stands.

“Frost Arena was getting outdated,” men’s basketball coach Eric Henderson said. “It’s time.”

While Henderson understands the 51-year-old Frost Arena is in need of some renovations, he also wants his players to understand the history and legacy of Frost Arena.

Henderson said he prides his team on their blue-collar attitude and he wants to make sure he keeps that attitude despite a flashy new arena. He also agrees with Georgalas and believes that the new facilities will bring a brand-new fan experience for SDSU students and fans.

Both coaches said the new facilities will bring more success to SDSU sports and that a new arena will be useful in competing with larger schools for some of the best recruits in the nation.

First Bank & Trust was founded by the Fishback family, and they are longtime supporters of SDSU athletics and the university itself. The business is headquartered in Brookings and is the largest privately held bank in South Dakota.

Athletic events will continue at the arena while the renovations are taking place. The capacity will drop from 6,500 to 5,500 because of the additions of premium seating areas, a bigger concourse area and new and improved locker rooms. 

Along with that, there will also be new video board and display systems, enhanced sound systems and improved restrooms.

Frost Arena was named after former SDSU athletic director R.B. “Jack” Frost and was unveiled to the public in February 1973. It cost $3.685 million to initially construct. Prior to Frost Arena, sporting events on campus were played at The Barn, built in 1918.