Sanford Health is giving $20 million to the University of South Dakota for a new arena. It is the third significant financial move for the Dakotas-based health network in less than a week.
The university last year began raising money for a proposed $50 million basketball and volleyball arena and adjoining sports medicine building that would connect to the existing DakotaDome. The university is "thrilled" with the Sanford donation, President Jim Abbott told the Argus Leader newspaper.
"We hope this goes a long way toward making our plans for an arena and an academic and sports medicine building a reality," he said. "We're going to be beating the bushes as fast and as fierce as we can to get our alumni to make their own commitments so we can move forward as soon as possible."
The donation is an extension of a relationship Sanford has had with USD's medical school, business school and athletic department and does not involve naming rights, Sanford spokesman Mike Begeman said.
"It looks like a gift of bricks and mortar but there is a lot more to it than that," he said. "It's really an investment in people. This is going to help us recruit future doctors and physical therapists as well as people from the business school. It's a very broad scope."
City officials announced late last week that Sanford Health, First Premier Bank and Premier Bankcard have secured the naming rights for the next quarter century for Sioux Falls' $115 million events center under construction. That deal is for nearly $21 million.
Officials also announced last week that Sanford is giving $10 million to South Dakota State University for an indoor multisport practice facility.
Sanford Health is based in Sioux Falls and in Fargo, N.D. It has a presence in more than 100 communities in seven states and bills itself as the nation's largest not-for-profit rural health care provider.