Construction on Dana J. Dykhouse stadium continues

The Jackrabbits will call Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium their home at the beginning of the 2016 South Dakota State University football season. Although the project won’t be complete until next season, many of the pieces of the project should be completed for this season.

Some new features completed on the project include bleachers and concourse areas on the east and south sides of the field and a new video board. These steps of the roughly $65 million process of converting Coughlin-Alumni Stadium into Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium are set to be ready for use Sept. 12 when the Jacks host the University of Southern Utah in SDSU’s 2015 home opener.

“We have been told over and over again that the east side bleachers and the south side bleachers will be completely done and ready for butts to sit in,” said Jeff Holm, senior associate athletic director of facilities and operations. “Last year at this time, we didn’t know whether the concession stands and the bathrooms would be complete underneath those areas, but most recently we’ve been told they will be done by the first game, September 12.”

The southeast ticket booth will also be in full operation during the home opener. When the season opens, the ticket booths on the west side of the stadium will be temporary positions until the outer shell of the permanent booths are completed. Upon completion of these outer shells, the ticket booth operations will work in their permanent locations.

Coughlin-Alumni’s main seating section will still be used as seating on the west side of the field. The walls of the West Tower, as it has been dubbed, will be completed in December 2015 and the interior work will take place during the winter months. The West Tower will house the suites and press area. A tribute to Coughlin-Alumni can also be found in the West Tower at the beginning of the 2016 season. Head Football Coach John Stiegelmeier said he believes that the continuing construction around the stadium during the 2015 football season will have a positive impact.

“I think if the construction has any effect it’ll be a positive effect. You know, the fact that things are moving ahead and that there’s better to come, more to come,” Stiegelmeier said.  

According to Holm, the project as a whole is on track to be completed within the limits of the budget and in accordance with the projected timeline that was set for the project from the beginning.

Fan capacity will be increased by this project. Coughlin-Alumni could hold 11,000 fans, while Dana J. Dykhouse, after its completion, will accommodate roughly 19,300 spectators. For the 2015 football season, the transition period will allow for 17,000 fans to cheer on the Jacks.

“Obviously 17,000 people are going to be able to be involved and affect the game in a bigger way than 11,000 thousand people,” Stiegelmeier said. “Ideally, the biggest part of it is the effect the fans can have in terms of energy and pressure on the opposing team.” 

With increased volumes, some of the entrance struggles from last year will still have to be dealt with this season. Last year, long lines of students could be seen waiting to get inside the gates at the student entrance in the southwest corner of the the stadium.

Holm gave some insight on how to prevent long waits at the student gate. First, from the students’ standpoint, he said to avoid arriving at the last minute before kickoff. Administrators are trying to get more I.D. readers and workers to support the student entrance gate. 

“The best thing and probably the only thing that will work well is if students don’t just all come last minute. That volume of students that come all at one time … I’m not sure if any place would be able to get that volume in knowing that they are students and have to be swiped through,” Holm said.      

Students also see a need for more space as many them were left with no place to sit at football games. Many times, large groups of students could be seen congregating in the southwest corner between the student section and the bleachers on the south side of the field underneath the scoreboard. One such student is junior Billy Kapperman. 

“It will be nice to have more places to sit and hopefully have more people show up,” Kapperman said. 

“I think everyday the football program feels blessed to be part of this change, tremendous change, at South Dakota State and appreciate those that have contributed,” Stiegelmeier said.