New hotel to accommodate visiting football teams


The Comfort Suites coming to Brookings is set to be completed in June of this year. It will feature a boardroom, fitness center, pool and hot tub and larger rooms with more amenties than a Comfort Inn.


A new 100-unit Comfort Suites hotel will be opening in June, east of South Dakota State University and west of Interstate 29, which will give visiting football teams the option of staying in Brookings. This hotel will be four blocks away from Frost Arena and six blocks from the football stadium. 

Despite there being nine hotels in Brookings, none of them are large enough or have the amenities a Division 1 football team requires. Visiting teams are instead forced to travel to nearby towns such as Sioux Falls, South Dakota for their hotel needs.

Den-Wil, Inc., a local development firm, is building a Comfort Suites hotel at 929 25th Ave., which will feature complimentary breakfast, a boardroom, fitness center, a pool and hot tub and larger rooms with more amenities than a Comfort Inn.

Den-Wil’s vision for a 5-acre interconnected hotel, convention center and restaurant will all be in Wilbert Square, the 31-acre development. This development will eventually have more to offer SDSU and the Brookings community and has 20-plotted lots for lease. 

This development is on a B-4 zoned piece of land, which are aesthetically designed commercial areas intended to have big box stores, grocery supermarkets, restaurants, financial institutions, office buildings and recreational facilities, Den-Wil’s realtor Sarah Woodard said.

With a newly completed football stadium to debut next season, people do not expect to hear that visiting teams playing at SDSU typically travel down to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for overnights, according to Adam Satterwhite, the director of SDSU football operations. However, this is not an uncommon situation for Missouri Valley Football Conference football teams.

       Since football teams have a minimum of 90 people traveling with them, most towns in the conference are not large enough to otherwise justify having such a hotel, Satterwhite said.

Visiting teams require enough room for their team, four or five breakout meeting rooms that allow players to meet with individual coaches and a catered type of food for the team, Satterwhite said. 

      “The whole effort here is to provide a nice quality experience that they would get at [some] other Division 1 towns. We’ve got some nice hotels here, it’s just that at our location… everything will be right here,” Den-Wil owner Dennis Bielfeldt said. “We would love this to be heavily used by the university; it’s about as close as you can get to the university with the land that’s available.” 

     While teams don’t always expect a five-star hotel to lodge at in the same town they play in, according to Satterwhite this hotel will add the luxury of staying close by for visiting teams when they play the Jackrabbits.

      “It’s a convenience factor, it’s not a game changer by any stretch … I wouldn’t say it impacts the performance, I think that no matter what you do the more convenient the better it will be all around,” Satterwhite said.

      Teams that don’t necessarily stay in Brookings because their hometown is close by, like the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, South Dakota, can also benefit from this new facility.

      “Being able to come to Brookings on game day might help us with a pregame meal instead of stopping in Sioux Falls; we might look into that next season,” said Luke Groth, director of the University of South Dakota football operations.

      Instead of a 45-minute drive from the airport in Sioux Falls, South Dakota or longer drives from universities across the region, the 10-minute drive to campus would be easier on the team’s equipment staff. The convention center at the hotel would also help teams run through team plays during bad weather, Satterwhite said.

      When teams do get the opportunity to stay in the same town they’re playing in, it presents an opportunity to stay more consistent with the player’s regular schedules, according to Groth. 

      “We are football operations and we’re preachers of habit. The number one goal when traveling is to minimize and eliminate distraction … [which could be] anything out of the ordinary,” Groth said. “Being able to stay in the town that you’re competing in is huge, it gives you extra meeting time and better options for food … it also allows our team to sleep in more.”

      Den-Wil has talked to SDSU Athletics Department for more than two years about what amenities traveling teams look for in a hotel to better serve this need. One of the main purposes of building this hotel was to cater to this particular need, not to create a monopoly over the other hotels in Brookings, Bielfeldt said.

      “My desire is not to take business away from other hotels, but to bring new business into hotels. It’s not a Comfort Inn – it’s a Comfort Suites, which is a whole new product,” Bielfeldt said. “You develop so the community can form. We hope it will bring something here to use in Brookings and will be a great addition to the town, and advance the program of a Division 1 university.”

      Not all current hotels in Brookings will be competitors as each hotel serves certain demographics of customers. For instance, Comfort Suites is the second highest brand by Choice Hotels and directly competes with Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn.

      Hotels will also see the convention center as a way to attract more people to the town and ultimately more business, said Melisa Yager, Holiday Inn Express and Suites general manager.

      “I don’t think the Holiday Inn business will be affected; the other ones like Quality Inn [that have similar customer bases] are ones I might be nervous for,” Yager said. “The competition always keeps us on our feet whether it’s good or not, from our angle on busy nights I think a lot of [places] are busy so there’s plenty of hotels in Brookings to profit from.”

      Den-Wil hopes that their new development will be well received by the community and by the university when it’s full completed.

      “It is a very beautiful convention center … let’s just say that the plans call for a very nice convention center,” Bielfeldt said. “We’re not trying to build something that’s boring, we’re trying to attract retail out there that would be of interest to students and the university community. That’s what we’ve done with Taco Bell—bring things to Brookings that people miss.”