When Dakotah! Sport & Fitness first opened in Minnesota in 1994, local families didn’t have a large health club to work out at within 20 miles. The seasonal ice rink had closed down, so all residents had were strip mall fitness centers and racquetball clubs in the nearby towns of Prior Lake and Shakopee.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community originally contracted HTG to create a small workout facility for tribe members, but their plans soon evolved to create something bigger for the entire community to use; A multipurpose building.

“There was a void within this market,” says Dakotah! Director Tad Dunsworth. “[With Dakotah! Sport and Fitness] all of those things become available. Not only from the fitness and swimming and ice arena, but at the time when we opened up, there was an indoor shooting range [and] an indoor track.”

The cost and time needed to build an expanded facility was more doable than it initially seemed, and the space not only accommodated the tribe but surrounding communities.

Today, about 75 to 80 percent of Dakotah’s membership comes from Prior Lake and Shakopee. About 300 adults and their families from the reservation take advantage of programs like personal training and lessons at the ice arena and pool. Dakotah! is home ice for the Prior Lake High School boys and girls’ teams.

And for those considering a multipurpose facility themselves, the benefits are endless.

To start, multipurpose facilities accommodate a larger population. Hockey and figure skating teams can do dryland training in the fitness center or jump into team conditioning classes onsite. 

“The ability to cross over and utilize both spaces benefits not only the arena, but then the individuals who are coming for the games,” Dunsworth says. “The parents who are dropping their kids off for the hockey practices have the ability to come over and work out while their son or daughter is getting their practice time or game in. It’s kind of a good symbiotic relationship where they both benefit.”

With their increased offerings, the revenues of multipurpose facilities also have more room to grow compared to stand-alone ice arenas. Monthly membership dues bring in money like any other fitness club at Dakotah!.

“You’re getting that monthly fee as opposed to an ice arena where you’re booking out each hour of ice and it’s a finite, fixed number,” says Dunsworth. “So, economically, having the club piece of it attached to it is financially better than just having a stand-alone arena.”

Once designers commit to a multipurpose facility, they have to decide what sports to include. Paying attention to the demands of the nearby population and emerging trends in the industry is a good rule of thumb.

For instance, pickle ball is getting big with baby boomers and the aging population overall right now, so Dakotah! just refinished their court lines. A bowling alley provided even more entertainment. Dunsworth doesn’t think there’s necessarily a limit to how many sports to include in a facility, as long as the time and space allows for expansion.

While the build on a multipurpose facility seems like it would take longer than a stand-alone ice arena, Dunsworth says construction may not take as long as some may think. Dakotah’s ice arena build went up at the same time as the health club build in ’94.

“Those trades that are putting in the ice arena aren’t necessarily putting in a pool. So if it can happen in conjunction,” says Dunsworth. “I don’t think it necessarily prolongs the period at all.”

“It’s just providing and being there in conjunction with the community,” Dunsworth later adds. “It’s just a good fit all around for not only us, but for the communities that we serve.”

Published on November 2, 2018