City Announces Intent to Purchase Sanford Tea-Ellis Wellness Center

Published on April 17, 2024

Wellness Center

Sioux Falls, South Dakota: The City of Sioux Falls announced today that it intends to purchase the Sanford Tea-Ellis Wellness Center located at 8701 West 32nd Street for $9 million. This cooperative effort represents a significant step toward expanding indoor recreation opportunities while allowing Sanford Health to refine its focus to more medical-based fitness and care.

“Both the City and Sanford Health are committed to creating healthier, thriving communities,” said Mayor Paul TenHaken. “This potential acquisition allows each organization to leverage its strengths for our residents and their customers. We’re grateful to Sanford Health for working with the City to make this acquisition possible to enhance aquatics and recreational opportunities for this community.”

Acquisition of the 70,000-square-foot Sanford Wellness Center will provide various indoor recreation programming opportunities to accommodate users of all ages. Potential opportunities include indoor aquatics, court sports, multi-generational fitness activities, indoor walking/running, a variety of recreational programs and classes, and community gathering spaces.

“The opportunity for Sanford Health and the City of Sioux Falls to partner together builds on our shared commitment to provide our communities with access to wellness options that can change lives,” said Steve Young, president of Sanford Sports. “At Sanford Health’s core, our mission is caring for people. And while we aren’t completely stepping away from our dedication to offering a fitness and indoor pool option for our communities, this shift allows us to refocus efforts on more medically based needs, which we’ve seen grow immensely.”

Sanford Health will continue to operate the Oxbow Wellness Center, which is currently undergoing renovations and improvements in multiple areas. Sanford will also continue to invest in medical and wellness services.

“Acquiring the Sanford Wellness Center aligns with our goals of increasing access to affordable year-round indoor recreation opportunities in Sioux Falls,” said Central District City Councilor Curt Soehl. “The added indoor recreational value and positive impact to our residents makes this a no-brainer.”

The City of Sioux Falls looks to begin operations by December 31, 2024. Sanford Health will retain a leased space for its physical therapy services within the facility. The City will develop staffing and operation plans, including opportunities for current Sanford Wellness employees and members, and offer new recreation services.

The City of Sioux Falls currently falls short of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) recommendation of 1.5 square feet of indoor recreation space per capita. This purchase would help close that gap and provide much-needed recreational opportunities for Sioux Falls residents.

“When we survey our Sioux Falls residents about their recreation facility needs and priorities, they tell us that their priorities are indoor playgrounds, indoor running/walking tracks, and indoor fitness and exercise facilities. All three are among the top five, along with trails and nature areas,” said Don Kearney, Director of Parks and Recreation. “Acquiring this facility from Sanford Health will be a great step toward meeting those needs. I can’t be more excited about this opportunity.”

The transaction is contingent on the approval of the Aquatics Bond, which the City Council will vote on in May. The bond will also include funding for replacing aging pools at Frank Olson and Kuehn Park. The total estimated cost for all three projects is $77 million. Next week, April 24–25, final neighborhood meetings will be held for these replacement facilities, followed by a presentation to the City Council.


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