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The Future Home Of The Jacks

April 3, 2014, 10:05 PM by Leland Steva

The Future Home Of The Jacks

The SDSU Football team has gone through many changes over the years, including a transition to Division One.

One thing that has stayed the same though is Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, where the Jackrabbits have played home games for decades. Now that is about to change, with a new stadium to call home. But that's not the only transformation taking shape in Brookings.

It may be empty now, but Saturdays in the fall, Coughlin-Alumni Stadium houses thousands of screaming Jackrabbit fans. Even with all the history inside the 52 year-old stadium, Director of Athletics Justin Sell knows the Jacks football team needs a new place to play.

"Just from an age standpoint we're at a point where we need to move forward. We need to create a different gameday experience, and modernize it," Justin Sell said.

With a measure recently signed by Governor Dennis Daugaard, it's now all hands on deck in building what'll be called the Dana J Dykhouse Stadium. It'll have over 19,000 seats, including 27 suites. The estimated cost of the new facility is $60 to $65 million. Sell says that with the growing community at SDSU, and in Brookings, it makes sense to allow more fans in the stadium to enjoy gameday.

"We've obviously been selling more tickets than even have available to seat. Just from an ability to house everybody. We've got to grow in terms of size and be able to provide an experience that you can't find anywhere else in the state of South Dakota," Sell said.

Head Coach John Stiegelmeier has lead the Jacks for 17 years. He considers Coughlin home, but is excited to see what his future home will mean for the sea of blue of yellow.

"I think a stadium enhances a fan's experience. The field's going to be the same size. That will affect us really the fans being more into it, and more fans. I think I am looking forward to a positive experience for the fans," John Stiegelmeier said.

The Jacks will have a new place to practice as well as there is construction going on a new practice facility that will be ready for the team on September 1st. The head football coach says that this facility will more than just his program.

"I think the biggest thing is all our sports are going to benefit from the indoor. Our track team is going to have a home. Our baseball team is going to be able to throw someplace other than a little gym downtown. So a huge impact in all our sports," Stiegelmeier said.

The indoor facility will have an eight lane, 300 meter track, and a 100 yard indoor football field. With the ever changing South Dakota climate, Coach Stig believes it's vital for the football team to be able to practice indoors.

"That will allow us to have good practice conditions all the time. We're going to play outside so we'll get used to that but we'll have a choice on where we practice," Stiegelmeier said.

The new practice facility will open in the fall.  Construction on the new stadium will also start this fall, with the remaining work during the 2015 season -- and complete by 2016.

Sell believes the fact that everything is going smoothly in the process so far is because of the support of the community.

"To have donors that have been willing just short of $50 million really in the last 18 months speak volume about their commitment to us but they're moving the needle. We can't get to this point without the support of our donors," Sell said.

With that help, Sell thinks the facilities being built in Brookings are impressive no matter where you are in the country.

"I think when you look at this complex with the Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center, the Sandford-Athletic Complex, and the Dana J Dykhouse Stadium, you're looking at the best facilities at our level that you can find anywhere," Sell said.

As Coughlin-Alumni Stadium has been a staple of Brookings for over 50 years, SDSU hopes the Jackrabbits, and it's fans, will have a new stadium to call home for years to come.

After getting the go-ahead from the Governor, the next big step in the process is finalizing a budget with architects. After that, the university will finish its fundraising, including selling naming rights for different parts of the stadium.

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