Summit League Continues To Break Records

The tournament is leading the nation in women's quarterfinal Attendance

Year after year, the Summit League Tournament brings out the best basketball of the conference, and each year it seems to be doing so in front of more and more people.

The first round of the women’s tournament has the summit league at the top of the country when it comes to attendance.

Nearly 10,000 people walked through the Denny Premier Center on Saturday to watch the women’s quarterfinals games.

But the tournament organizers say that’s nothing new.

In fact, last year’s attendance numbers for the session were higher than what major conferences like the ACC, Big 12 and Big 10 are drawing this year.

“I’m not as surprised by this,” says Sioux Falls Sports Authority Executive Director Bryan Miller. “The tournament has been going on for the 8 years, and we’ve seen record numbers ever since it came to Sioux Falls.” 

While Miller says he expected to see those numbers, he says it’s still exciting. 

“It’s great for the league and great for women’s basketball,” says Miller. “It’s really exciting for me with the regional basketball coming up in a few weeks, to see the people interested in women’s basketball. You don’t see that across the country.” 

And the numbers prove it.

The official number put out by the Summit League for the women’s quarterfinal session was 9,816.

That’s nearly 2,700 more than what the American Conference drew to come in at no.2. 

“When you lead the nation in attendance in the quarter final not by a little bit, but by a bunch, it really sets the bar and standard for others to catch up to,” says Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple.

But he doesn’t expect to fall from the top. 

“We have a good formula in the women’s and men’s duel tournament,” says Douple. “We get questions from other conference of ‘wow how are you doing it?’ Well it’s simple; we found a niche here in Sioux Falls.” 

The loud cheers demonstrate just that. 

“You can’t get a much better fan base than what we have in this league,” says Miller.

Top-seeded USD and no. 2 seed SDSU helped power Saturday’s big draw.

Given that South Dakota’s favorite teams will face off Saturday for the summit league championship, we could see another attendance record broken.