SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — If you’ve attended a South Dakota State University football game this season you would be hard pressed to find an empty seat in the stadium.
There have been four home games at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium and attendance continues to grow each game with the average sitting at 16,541 fans according to assistant AD for marketing, Maggan Froseth.
“Each game that we’ve had, this season has drawn over 15,000 fans, for our first four home games, which is great. Obviously, that’s exactly where we want to be,” Froseth said.
Froseth says they’re hoping to beat the current record of an average of 13,700 fans per game in 2016 when the stadium first opened.
“So, in comparison to last year, the first four games that we had: First one was 15,000 fans, second one [was] 14,000 fans, third one was 12,000 fans, and then the fourth one was Hobo Days which was 16,000 fans,” Froseth said.
Last weekend’s win over the University of South Dakota was only the second time the stadium sold out, Froseth added.
This season also marks the first season where alcohol sales are permitted during games and while that is drawing crowds, Froseth thinks it’s only a small part of the growing attendance.
“I think it’s helping, obviously, I think fans that want to come and participate in drinking alcohol or drinking beer at our games are able to now do so. But I think that it’s kind of the trajectory of what was going to happen anyways,” Froseth said.
Coach John Stiegelmeier hopes the beer isn’t the only thing drawing people to the games.
“Ideally, it’s because of the quality of football we play and the quality of opponents we play at home,” Stiegelmeier said.
While beer might not be the main driver of attendance, it certainly is something fans are enjoying. Looking at the upcoming Hobo Day game against Indiana State, the alcohol-free sections in the home and away section remains unfilled with the rest of the stadium filling up.
But football attendance isn’t the only sport that is seeing a growing number of fans at games.
“So, I think that their success bleeds into all the other sports,” Froseth said. “I know our soccer attendance is up our volleyball attendance is way up. We just broke the attendance a couple of weeks ago when we played USD here at home.”
SDSU has grown their national profile over the last few years with NCAA tournament runs in basketball and a trip to Frisco for the FCS National Championship. That helps with recruitment and building a university that excels in all areas, Froseth said.
“And then with us continuing to be successful, and then also recruiting locally, making sure that we’re getting not only Midwest kids, but maybe specifically South Dakota kids, and having them perform at a high level I think is really great for our state,” Froseth said.
Once a Jackrabbit, always a Jackrabbit
In addition to a dedicated student base, Froseth credits the alumni association for building a strong network of former Jackrabbits that in turn come back to Brookings for sporting events.
Those fans are also breaking records when it comes to buying season ticket passes.
“We have the highest number of season tickets ever. I mean that those are people that are showing up to every game,” Stiegelmeier said.
Froseth is happy to see the booming season ticket sales and hopes that extends throughout the season, as well as into other sports such as basketball coming up this winter.
“So, we worked really hard on developing different plans that we can work with, with our, you know, local community,” Froseth said. “And, you know, so we have many plans, which you kind of alluded to, that’s where you can choose three games throughout the season that you can come to, at a discounted rate, rather than buying them at a single game rate, our season ticket sales are up.”