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Dana J. Dykhouse makes a difference to recruits, athletes and alumni

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Dana J. Dykhouse makes a difference to recruits, athletes and alumni

MIRANDA SAMPSON

MIRANDA SAMPSON

MIRANDA SAMPSON

MIRANDA SAMPSON

MIRANDA SAMPSON

MIRANDA SAMPSON

MIRANDA SAMPSON

Carter Schmidt

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Size really does matter, especially when concerning football stadiums.

The $65-million Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium opened in 2016, and has brought astronomical changes to South Dakota State.

Dana J. Dykhouse stadium opened in 2016 as one of the largest stadiums in FCS, and the $65 million facility impacts SDSU and the football team in many ways.

While attendance has increased significantly since the days of Coughlin Alumni Stadium, most games fall short of filling the more than 19,000-seat stadium.

“We’re averaging roughly 15,000 fans at a game, and when you look at that compared to the population of Brookings, that’s a pretty impressive number,” said Jeff Holm, associate athletic director of facilities and operations.

Holm said most new stadiums aren’t filled to capacity until many years after they are built.

“I don’t think NDSU sold out the Fargodome for the first 20 years,” he said.

Holm doesn’t concentrate on whether there is a sellout but rather focuses on the increase in crowds at football games over the past few years.

Attendance has increased significantly from 38,051, for an average of 5,436 each game in 2000 while the Jacks were in the Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, to 95,268, for an average of 11,994 each game in 2017.

Year

Stadium

Number of Home Games

Total Attendance

Average Per Game

2000

Coughlin Alumni

7

38,051

5,436

2005

Coughlin Alumni

7

48,538

6,972

2010

Coughlin Alumni

5

50,117

10,023

2015

Coughlin Alumni (Partially Dana J. Dykhouse)

6

77,394

12,899

2016

Dana J. Dykhouse

7

96,268

13,753

2017

Dana J. Dykhouse

8

95,951

11,994

Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium has a capacity of 19,348, a 7,348 increase from Coughlin Alumni.

Some people think the stadium is too large for SDSU and don’t foresee a day when it reaches capacity, but Holm stays optimistic and thinks it will happen soon.

“It is not far-fetched to think we’re going to reach capacity in the near future and having the availability is fantastic,” Holm said.

Holm says the main strategy to achieve the goal is marketing, student athletes and coaches being visibly active in the community and getting SDSU’s brand out there.

He added that the energy and excitement of a brand new building have brought numbers of people to the stadium to provide an atmosphere that is unforgettable.

The largest crowd the stadium has seen so far was 18,130 during the North Dakota State University game last season.

“It’s crazy. It’s awesome knowing all these people came out to watch us play and we practice really hard for that and it’s always a good feeling when we can have a turnout like that,” sophomore wide receiver Cade Johnson said.

Johnson wasn’t the only athlete to appreciate the stadium.

“It’s a big adrenaline rush every time running out on the field just seeing so many people there to watch a football game,” senior quarterback Taryn Christion said.

Since the transition to Division I athletics, SDSU has wanted a facility like the Dykhouse stadium.  

When comparing the stadium to other FCS schools, SDSU head football coach John Stiegelmeier said it is the best in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

“We’ve been to a lot of other places in our journeys and it [Dykhouse] is a special place,” he said.

SDSU recruiting also has benefited because of the new stadium and other athletic facilities.

“The addition of the stadium is huge in a number of ways from a football perspective,” Holm said. “Yes, recruiting, it helps. Most importantly, it helps in player development once they get here.”

Sioux Falls Roosevelt High School football coach Kim Nelson said about six of his players move onto collegiate athletics each year, but only one of those players chooses to don the yellow and blue.

Factors that influence how students choose a school for their collegiate athletic career are when coaches visit high schools, the reputation of the college and the facilities available to athletes, Nelson said.

Roosevelt plays at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls, which holds over 10,000 fans and recently has been renovated.

“Compared to other schools in the South Dakota area, we play in a really nice facility, so I think [recruits] are really impressed by nice, new facilities and a feeling that going to college is a big step up for them,” he said.

Stiegelmeier said he understands the facility helps for recruiting, but he’d like to think it’s the people and academics that are a deciding factor in athletes choosing SDSU.

“I hope they understand we’re going to take care of them facility wise, but that’s not going to make their experience here,” Stiegelmeier said.

The team also takes advantage of the soy-based turf field.

“The big thing from the game standpoint is playing on turf,” Christion said. “Going from grass to turf, especially when it gets cold, the grass gets really hard, cleats slip a little bit. That was a big thing.”

SDSU designed the complex to make student athlete experiences as convenient as possible.

While connected to the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, Sanford Jackrabbit Athletic Complex and Dykhouse Student Athlete Center are connected. The SJAC contains locker rooms, strength and conditioning, sports medicine and academic areas all in one building.

Student athletes are satisfied with SDSU’s facilities and what the university is doing to keep them modern.

“[The facilities] mean everything to this university,” Johnson said. “We’re only expanding and it’s only going to get better from here and we’re already the best. It means a lot and it played a big factor into me coming here.”

Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium is an asset not just for the university, but for the entire Brookings community, Stiegelmeier said.  

“There’s no better [complex],” Holm said. “It’s as good as it gets.”

The facility isn’t used just for SDSU football, but also Brookings High School football and other programs.

The largest banquet room in Brookings County, Club 71, is in the west tower of the stadium and is used for weddings, career expos, student organization events, hall of fame banquets and more, Holm said. The room is booked over 100 times throughout the year.

“Our team, our football family, and other guys that played here in the past, they appreciate having this facility,” he said. “The whole Jackrabbit family really appreciates what we have done here in terms of facilities.”

Alumni and past SDSU football players are reminded of their experiences as they see the improvements when they return to Brookings.

“We had a football camp here when it was first built and there was an alumnus out in the middle of the field, and he turned around and had tears in his eyes,” Stiegelmeier said.

 

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Dana J. Dykhouse makes a difference to recruits, athletes and alumni