SDSU gets go-ahead to plan new athletic facilities


Despite getting approval, the project faces a long and uncertain future.

To get new athletic facilities built at SDSU, you have to start with something.

Something is a Preliminary Athletic Facility Statement, which was approved in June by the South Dakota Board of Regents during their meeting in Madison. The measure allows SDSU to officially start facility planning committees and specifically raise funds for both an indoor practice facility and a new football stadium.

SDSU President David Chicoine, Athletic Director Justin Sell, and Students’ Association President Mark York and Vice President Anthony Sutton were on-hand to hear the BOR approve the measure.

Specifically, it allows the university to draft plans for how the stadium will be funded and to begin market research. The planning could range from $650,000 to $950,000 for professionals to nail down more specifics on the project. SDSU plans to look at potential revenue streams, including looking at suites and premium seating options and naming rights opportunities.

SDSU will have to return to the BOR to have them approve of the plan before it heads to the state legislature for final approval before construction.

Being representatives of the students, York’s number-one concern is that students have plenty of seating in the new stadium to increase their in-game presence. Sutton said that he’s eager to have more parts of the Athletic Department’s master plan executed and give the student-athletes their own space, allowing the university to reprogram areas like the Wellness Center and the Intramural Building.

Both York and Sutton agreed that the indoor practice facility would have top priority to build before the new football stadium, a sentiment that seems to be shared by the project’s top leaders because of both cost and importance to SDSU’s outdoor sports.

The BOR has already said that funding for these projects will not come from the state budget or from the state’s allocation to SDSU and will be privately funded. The group has also said it would not support proposals that include an increase in student fees to pay for athletic facilities, a measure that both York and Sutton support.

“It is the board’s clear expectation that private donations and sponsorships will pay the full cost of constructing these facilities, if they are approved,” Jack Warner, the regents’ executive director and CEO, said in a statement. “Additionally, we expect ongoing operating costs to be supported by athletic revenues, such as ticket sales and advertising.”

“We’re fortunate that a lot of our alumni are season-ticket holders and they know the importance of providing a quality experience to our students,” SDSU athletic director Justin Sell said after the announcement. “[The new facilities] are symbols of a Division I institution and I think they can help have an overall impact on not just the university, but the state of South Dakota, as well.”

As for a timetable, even the SA president is unsure of the future of these projects.

“I hope that current students can drive away from graduation at SDSU and see the indoor practice facility in their rearview mirror,” York said. “But no promises.”