Kevin Lampe is the president of the Sanford Sports Complex. Learn his long history of working with Sanford Health president and CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft, the varied responsibilities that come with his role and his vision for the continual development of the nearly 500-acre campus that he oversees.
Early life, early career
Kevin Lampe was born and raised in southeast Iowa and attended college in western Illinois on a wrestling scholarship. During his wrestling years, he became injured. Going through the sports medicine program to achieve wellness for himself, Lampe realized he wanted to pursue a career in the field and help others do the same.
Following graduation, he took a dual position at Missouri Southern State University, a small public school located in Joplin, as their head athletic trainer while also teaching in the Kinesiology Department.
Several years later, his neighbor, the board chair of Freeman Hospital in Joplin, came over and said, “I met this new young executive that we’re going to hire, and I think you’d like him.” That young executive was Krabbenhoft.
Lampe and Krabbenhoft met, and their two families became quite close. About a year later, Krabbenhoft asked Lampe to join the team at Freeman Hospital, and Lampe accepted.
Joining Sanford Health
Krabbenhoft left Freeman Hospital to become president and CEO of Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System in late 1996. A few months later, he asked Lampe to join him. However, Lampe remained at Freeman for a few years until his daughters graduated high school before making the transition. He is now approaching his 20th year at Sanford Health.
His career at Sioux Valley began as vice president of orthopedics and sports medicine at the hospital in Sioux Falls. He remained in that position for roughly a decade at which point he was asked to join the corporate team and bring together orthopedics and sports medicine for the enterprise.
Lampe’s new position required traveling around to Sanford Health’s major hubs in Fargo, Bismarck and Bemidji, helping build a streamlined program.
Roles and responsibilities
About 18 months ago, Krabbenhoft asked Lampe if he would work on the development of the campus at the Sanford Sports Complex. This includes the continual development of the Pentagon and the Fieldhouse as well as new projects like Great Shots, Fleet Farm and the remodel of Blue Rock Bar & Grill.
“Everything that happens out on this almost 500-acre campus in some way touches the role that I’m in,” Lampe says.
A major responsibility for Lampe is overseeing programming at the Pentagon. On the day I interviewed him, there were 87 basketball teams honing their skills at a summer camp. Volleyball teams were coming in the next week.
However, Lampe and his team are tasked with diversifying programs for the times sports don’t occupy the building. Recent examples are the “PJ Masks Live” show and mixed martial arts events.
“For us to continue to be as successful as we want to be, we have to grow the programming,” he says.
Construction on the still wide-open campus will also continue, with more sporting and retail opportunities being added.
“We’ve got some big plans for this campus over the next several years, developing what would be like a retail walkway that you would experience on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago,” Lampe says.
He envisions the “Sanford Mile” being anchored at one end by the Pentagon. A pedestrian walkway would connect to property off to the south. Then at the other end, visitors would find another major venue that is still in the planning stages.
Accomplishments and future goals
“I believe every day at Sanford Health is challenging in a way that people feel pushed to be better. I think that’s a healthy environment. I think we’re an organization that rewards people that do good, honest, hard work,” Lampe says. “There’s a great deal of satisfaction in being a part of that. What makes me really excited is the mission we’re on and the people I’m working with to accomplish it.”
In reflecting on his nearly 20-year career, Lampe finds many major accomplishments by the Sanford Health team that he is proud to have been a part of. The orthopedics and sports medicine program developed from a small service with one physician leader to an enterprise-wide group. The creation of the Pentagon and the Fieldhouse were projects that Lampe was a part of from the beginning. Lampe’s discussions with the American College of Sports Medicine helped lead to the creation of the Sanford Sports Science Institute, which is now a leader in new sports research.
Recently, a group of local leaders told Lampe how important the Sanford Sports Complex is as an economic engine in Sioux Falls. It brings in millions upon millions of dollars, particularly from out-of-state. They deemed it “a community gem.”
Turning to the future, Lampe would like to see Great Shots open strong. He says its design was based on observations made around the country and that its technology will likewise serve as a model nationally.
Lampe also wants to continue to draw new community groups to bring their program to the campus.
For well over a decade, Lampe has served as president of the Sioux Falls Sports Authority, which focuses on bringing major sporting events to Sioux Falls. Drawing the Summit League tournament to the city is one of the organization’s signature accomplishments. Lampe would also like to reach a point where Sioux Falls hosts the first or second round of the NCAA basketball tournament at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
“This is a community that deserves to host that, and as long as I continue to serve in that position, I’ll try to make it a reality,” he says.
Family life, hobbies and interests
Lampe is married, with two daughters in their 30s and five grandsons. They enjoy the outdoors and are very sports- and activity-oriented. Sometimes they retreat to a little place by the lake and enjoy time on the boat, skiing, tubing or fishing.
With such a long career at Sanford Health, Lampe has a lot of wisdom to share. He never saw himself in the position he is in now. However, he says, “You’ve just got to get in there, put your elbows on the table, lean forward and say, ‘I can get that done.’
“If you stick with something, you’ll be rewarded for it — you just don’t know when, and it might be in a different role than you ever envisioned.”
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