Anonymous $100K donation ensures mini-pitch soccer field at Terrace Park

The pilot project spearheaded by Dakota Alliance Soccer Club converts existing tennis and basketball courts into micro-soccer fields.

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Members of the Dakota Alliance Soccer Club from Sioux Falls play on a mini-pitch field in Des Moines, Iowa.
Contributed / Dakota Alliance Soccer Club

SIOUX FALLS — An anonymous donor is covering half the cost of a mini-pitch soccer field at Terrace Park.

The $100,000 donation to the Sioux Falls Parks Foundation means the field could be open for play by the end of summer on what is now a little-used tennis court.

The city council gave initial approval to pay the other half at its regular meeting earlier this week. If the money receives final council approval on May 16, construction could begin as early as June.

A mini-pitch is a playground-level soccer field for organized competition or pick-up games. They are attractive to urban neighborhoods because of the limited space needs and ability to convert tennis or basketball courts.

Dakota Soccer Alliance, Neighborhood Soccer and the City of Sioux Falls hope the mini-pitch at Terrace Park is the first of many.

That’s the situation at Terrace Park where the courts sit just north of the swimming pool on Nusier Salem Field, said Mike Patton, a park development specialist for the city.


“It’s a good fit,” Patton told the council on Tuesday, May 9. “It will allow for kids to show up and play. You don’t need two full teams to show up and play in a huge open space. You can play 3-on-3, you can play 5-on-5, you can show up and go.”

Local soccer groups brought the idea to the Sioux Falls Parks Department after seeing mini-pitches in Des Moines.

Frank Gurnick, the executive director of Dakota Alliance Soccer, said the concept is a way for his group to bring the sport to kids that aren’t able to make it to the far-flung fields in suburban Sioux Falls. They are also a focus of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, which has a goal of building 1,000 mini-pitches in the country by 2026.

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Frank Gurnick, executive director of the Dakota Alliance Soccer Club, at the Terrace Park tennis courts on Tuesday, April 28, 2023. The tennis courts will be converted to a mini-pitch soccer facility.
Patrick Lalley / Sioux Falls Live

“That’s totally awesome,” said Gernick on Thursday, May 11. “It’s the commitment of seeing a vision come to fruition today and not tomorrow.”

Terrace Park is a pilot project that Gernick and the city believe has potential at other sites including Pioneer and Meldrum parks.

“We are just going to scratch the surface with this project,” Gernick said. “I have a feeling when other people are going to see this and say, we want in our neighborhood.”

The legacy of Nusier Salem Field, named for a legendary Cathedral High School coach, lives with a new game, familiar spirit.

Patton said during the council meeting on Tuesday that the money was flowing through the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.

Andy Patterson, president of the Community Foundation, said the anonymous donation came through the Parks Foundation, which is an affiliate that does its own fundraising.


Projects that bring people together are vital to maintain community engagement, city councilor Rich Merkouris said during the meeting. The Levitt at the Falls and now the mini-pitch are great examples of that, he said.

“It’s an opportunity for people from every income level in every place in our community to come and interact and build relationships,” he said. “This is a huge win for our city and I would hope that as a council we will support it, and I encourage the parks department to bring more things forward like it.”

Patrick Lalley is the engagement editor and reporter for Sioux Falls Live. Reach him at
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