South Dakota State will have its first major event at the new Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium Thursday, Sept. 8.
Jacks Bash will kick off the stadium’s first season with concert performances by country artists Luke Bryan, Little Big Town and Lee Brice.
The first football game for the Jacks at the stadium will be two days later, Saturday, Sept. 10, when they take on the Drake University Bulldogs.
Justin Sell, SDSU’s director of athletics, said the stadium is about 98 percent complete but will be at 100 percent by Sept. 10.
The biggest change from Coughlin-Alumni to Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium is the seating, especially the seating on the west side. The area now towers 100 feet high, whereas it only rose 30 feet in the Coughlin-Alumni stadium
Coughlin-Alumni sat around 11,000 where the new stadium now seats 19,360.
“We’re expecting to fill the place for that first game, and it will be very hard for opposing teams to come here,” Sell said.
There are four different seating options on the new west side.
Regular bench seating with backs are available, which can be purchased for the same price as last year which was $170 for a season ticket.
There are 1,200 club seats, padded seats with arm rests, which are available with season ticket purchases for $750 per seat.
The third option is the Loge level. Loge means private box or enclosure. The seats are available with $2,500 season ticket purchases.
The fourth option is suites, which are between $30,000 and $40,000 for the season. These were mostly bought by businesses.
The Loge level has 174 seats. There are four seats per box with two televisions per box and heaters above the seats.
“I would say that most people when they step out onto that Loge level will agree that they are the best seats in the place to see the action,” Sell said.
There are 27 suites on the suite level. There are eight executive suites which are slightly larger. All of the suites include beverages, food and seating both inside and outside for 16 people. Also, there is a TV and heaters above the seats outside.
“If you sit up here, you will be in places that nobody has ever been in Brookings, South Dakota,” Sell said.
The club, Loge and suite level all have the access room “Club 71,” named after the number Dana Dykhouse wore when he played at SDSU. This room looks like a banquet hall with access to food and beverages included with a ticket purchase. The room sits 600 people.
“This is really the feature of the facility that will allow us to host things year long,” Sell said. “When we brought the plan to the state legislator, one of the selling pieces was that it wasn’t just for the six Saturdays in the fall, it was for really connecting the university and the state.”
The press level is the highest point in the stadium and has lots of changes to it. Instead of having every single media member in the same box, there will be different rooms for different media. The old press box went from one 30-yard line to the other 30-yard line. This one is the length of the field. There will also be faster Internet access and bathrooms, which is something the old one didn’t have.
Also on the press level is President Barry Dunn’s suite. This suite is almost triple the regular suite size. It has a full bar, seats inside with a view of the field and a patio outside. This space will be used by President Dunn to host people who give to the university and other important faculty members as well. Sell said it will be used year round like Club 71.
Another change is SDSU decided to use turf instead of natural grass. They used a soybean based turf to involve agriculture students and local farmers.
“It’s a fantastic surface and our guys love it,” Sell said “The starkness of the paint on the turf is what really impresses me.”
Head football coach John Stiegelmeier also chimed in on the new turf.
“The field is my favorite aspect of the new stadium because that is the thing that we as a team will be using,” Stiegelmeier said.
Earning an FCS National Championship is the SDSU football team’s goal. Both Sell and Stiegelmeier know this stadium is a step toward that goal. Sell said that when a student walks on campus they see quality and that can help the university reach the level of hosting playoff games and winning a championship.
“If we can fill the stadium, the energy that will be here, will be something special and something hasn’t been here before,” Stiegelmeier said. “That energy will also help us recruit premier athletes.”
With that goal comes high expectations. Both to do well the first season in this stadium and to continue to do well so they can keep the stadium full.
“When people pay what they do for seats and suites, they are more invested. Their opinion gets stronger and they think they can do my job,” Stiegelmeier said. “To be brutally honest with you, my faith keeps me at an even keel and I know that I can only coach as well as I can.”
One final thing that will be different is the student tailgate area, which will now be located south of the stadium in the parking lot between the Wellness Center and stadium.
“We’re working with students and student groups because I want students to define what game day experience is for them,” Sell said. “We want to give you your space and I want to encourage that because students make a big difference here.”