The push continues to gain even more support for a new $60-plus million football stadium at South Dakota State. Two informational sessions are scheduled for the public in Sioux Falls.
Coughlin-Alumni Stadium opened in 1962 and over the years, it's served the Jackrabbits well. On top of its age, however, the football program's recent success and popularity have many asking for a new facility.
"When you average, sometimes, 2,000 people more than you have seats for, they deserve seats. How many people aren't coming because of that? Again, what would be the impact on the football program," SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said.
Stiegelmeier began coaching at his alma mater in 1988. He's helped build SDSU into a national contender. The Jackrabbits have made the playoffs each of the past two years including this past season averaging 10,694 fans per home game along the way. CAS currently has seating for just over 10,000 fans without the addition of temporary stands. The new stadium, which is waiting final approval from the state legislature, will seat more than 18,000.
"It's a bit of a showpiece if you will. When you watch highlights of our team, it will be in this great facility. It will be a recruiting piece. It will be a first class venue for us to hone our skills. There's going to be so much. I tell you what, when you walk into a stadium and there's 19,000 people in there, it's going to have an impact on the football game," Stiegelmeier said.
SDSU set a record for attendance when it hosted North Dakota State this season. That day, 16,498 showed up to cheer on the Jacks. Regardless of where they play and how nice and new it is, Stig makes a point to make sure his team always knows how far the program has come.
"Whether it's going to be Coughlin Alumni to the new stadium or the old locker to the Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center or the trailers to the Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center, we've always stressed that and we always will," Stiegelmeier said.
Since the start of the 2009 season, SDSU has had 14 home games that have drawn at least 12,000 fans, including three with at least 15,000. Town hall meetings in Sioux Falls are scheduled for January 29 at noon and 5:30 p.m. on the top floor of the Holiday Inn City Center in downtown Sioux Falls.
Following are SDSU's average home attendance figures since moving to Division I:
- 2013: 10,694
- 2012: 11,843
- 2011: 12,105
- 2010: 10,023
- 2009: 13,265 (average attendance record — first playoff season)
- 2008: 9,906
- 2007: 11,218
- 2006: 9,652
- 2005: 6,972
- 2004: 9,846