Matchup Fuels Local Business, Rivalry

Hannah Baker

A matchup between SDSU and USD has the potential to bring out the best and worst in fans. No matter which side shines through on Jan. 12 and 16, they will bring out one more important thing: their wallets.

Christi Williams, assistant athletic director of Ticket Operations, said every seat is expected to sell out for both games and the 6,107 capacity limit will be met. This is significantly higher than the average of 1,800 tickets sold for regular conference games.

All those people, not to mention a house filled with rivals, means the Athletic Department is not taking any chances when it comes to safety.

“Every time you get more people you increase security,” Williams said. “The rivalry aspect was taken into account slightly, but the increase had more to do with the fact that we have so many more people than that we need more security. It’s nothing different than any other major game.”

Much like a football game, people and their bags will be searched upon entering the arena. Williams said she and other staff working the event are pushing for good sportsmanship among the audience and no one wearing an offensive shirt, holding an inappropriate sign — or especially concealing a dead animal — will be let into the game.

Although the rivalry died down for a few years when SDSU went Division I and USD remained Division II, Mayor Tim Reed said some heat can be felt from a rekindling of the rivalry now that USD is transitioning into a Division I spot.

“I hope we don’t go back into the ugly parts of rivalry,” he said. “I hope the animals on the floor doesn’t happen — we want an event that represents Brookings, SDSU and USD positively.”

Frost Arena is not the only place in Brookings planning to be bursting at the seams Jan. 12. Ryan Brunner, project coordinator for the Brookings Economic Development Corporation, said the Brookings community in general is expecting to receive its own fair share of Coyotes and Jackrabbits swarming in and out of gas stations, shops, restaurants and taverns. “People make an evening of it,” he said. “They go out to eat before or after the game, not just downtown but in all of the food and drinking establishments in Brookings.”

Despite the games being on weeknights rather than a weekend, Brunner said the warmer and drier weather is a helping hand in getting people here safely. He said if Brookings or the surrounding area had snow then that might keep some people away who didn’t want to face the roads, but blue skies and no snow mean this year that’s not an issue.

Brunner said the EDC estimates that a one-day visitor will spend $60 during their stay in Brookings after factoring in going out to eat, buying gas on their way out of town or shopping. With the bus loads of people traveling from Vermillion, Sioux Falls, and everywhere else, Brunner said he suspects the Brookings community “will do very well” in terms of bringing in the money.

“When we win on Thursday it will bring a lot of people out and it’ll be good for us all,” he said.

Cubby’s Sports Bar and Grill is always a lively pre and postgame hangout, before and after the game on Jan.12 that will be no different. Chris Stoltenberg, a manager at Cubby’s, said they expect a “mad house” by 4 p.m. before the game. Several huge reservations have been made of 40-plus people, including a large amount of out-of-towners, which will result in standing room only as the night progresses.

“Well, now that the rivalry is back in full swing, it’s going to be an extremely busy night in Brookings in general and a big night for us,” he said.