The Collegian

Soccer team eyes facility upgrade

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Soccer team eyes facility upgrade

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Maggie Smither

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A new stadium will be coming to campus, if the funding and approval get completed.

It could take up to a year, but South Dakota State women’s soccer team will be getting a new stadium.

After nearly 18 seasons for the program, there are finally plans to build a soccer facility on campus. According to coach Brock Thompson the future field will be in the northeast corner of campus, just south of the baseball field.

The soccer team would benefit from a $1 million field. The baseball and soccer teams would share a $2.5 million facility to house locker rooms and concessions.

“Having a field on campus will bring tremendous visibility to our program,” Thompson said. “You will be able to see and feel the commitment the university and athletic department makes to the program.”

An on campus facility shows not only members of the team how committed the school is to their success, but also future recruits, Thompson said.

Senior-Associate Athletic Director of Compliance Kathy Heylens said sport facilities are one of the top five things prospective athletes look for in a university.

“Prospective student athletes are more likely to choose a college or university that provides amenities such as an on-campus facility,” Heylens said. “It also shows a diligence and dedication to the sport.”

The field will positive for the university according to Heylens.

A new facility within walking-distance of residence halls and common areas encourages higher attendance.  Other outdoor events could be held on campus, which brings more money to the department, Heylens added.

According to Heylens, the facility is still in its beginning stages. Of the total cost, at least 80 percent is needed in-hand before moving forward with the project.

Director of Athletics Justin Sell said the hope is to identify the donors, secure the necessary funding and bring the proposal to the Board of Regents for approval as soon as possible.

“The Board of Regents takes project requests each fall, so my hope is that we could go to them next fall and start construction the following spring,” Sell said.

Since the program’s start in 2000, SDSU women’s soccer has appeared in the NCAA Tournament four times. The soccer team became Division I in 2004, when they competed as an Independent. Since joining the Summit League in 2007, the Jackrabbits have won the league tournament four times and have been Summit League regular season champions four times.

Currently, the Jacks face opponents from some elite conferences such as the PAC-12, Big 10 and Big 12. Thompson doesn’t see that changing with a new field.

“We get good teams now because the Fishback Complex is so good,” Thompson said. “Having a great grass field on campus will give us great competition.”

“A new field will be a turning point for the soccer program,” Karlee Manding, a freshman forward from Hawaii said. “To be able to play on campus would change the energy; it would mean a lot. The support would motivate us to be better.”

Heylens said that this on-campus facility will bring in more money for the university, provide more entertainment and increase general student recruitment and retention.

Currently, the Jacks have an average of 11 home games a season and the cost is $7.

At the Fishback Complex, the average attendance is 285. The new facility would be able to host more fans and its convenient location would increase the attendance per game.

“A field on campus will allow us to connect with our campus community,” said Sell. “It gives us a chance to enhance our student-athlete experience and grow support for the program by allowing for greater student attendance.”

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