For students, stadium questions still remain

Editorial Board


 Issue: The logistics of building a new stadium raises questions and concerns among students.

There’s one thing for sure about the new SDSU stadium and its planning process: It’s complicated. 

First of all, we don’t know what the Board of Regents will do with the plan in December when the state’s public university governing body meets in Rapid City. It’s likely they’ll approve it but we don’t know. There could be hurdles if it gets to the legislature next January. We know the university has $12.5 million in hand from donations for the new facility. 

We know that the Pride of the Dakotas and the students will be seated in the south endzone of a stadium that will seat 18,500 fans and the university will try to sell expensive suites and club level seating (some of that is already spoken for). We know that the university wants to get the stadium done in time for the 2016 football season and that the final grass playing surface in the Missouri Valley Football Conference will go away when artificial turf replaces it in the new facility. 

But there’s seemingly more that we don’t know. We don’t know exactly how much it will cost or how many it will seat. We don’t know what the financials quite look like yet and we don’t know what role student fees will play in the grand plan of the stadium. That’s still coming, according to what we’ve learned from the most recent Students’ Association meetings. 

SA passed a resolution earlier this week illustrating its support for the process of a stadium and back the plan heading to the BOR. That’s all that’s been decided on their end and even on that subject, it got a little contentious. If athletics needs a one-time allocation, how much is that going to cost? And can SDSU even fill the darn thing? There were 5,317 people at the game Saturday to end the home regular season schedule and most of the east bleachers were empty. What will happen in 2016 if SDSU’s attendance numbers take their typical late season nosedive and the brand new stadium is 35 percent full? That’s not going to look good. 

And so maybe we’ll have to pump the brakes on freaking out over what’s going to happen with the stadium. Yes, there’s a lot at stake but it seems like a quality plan is being drafted and that the public (students) is at least going to have a say over what their potential contribution will include. Student fees make people anxious and rightfully so. 

But, students should not be scared of a fee increase for the stadium. If you want a nice, new house, you have to pay nice, new house money. The same is the case with sparkling new football stadiums. But if students end up footing the bill for some of the stadium’s cost for maintenance or upkeep, there should be a kickback to the students. SDSU students should be able to use the facility at a reasonable rate if it’s not in use by the main tenants, in this case SDSU football or other athletic teams. 

Another question: What’s going to be the role of students in potentially paying for maintenance costs on a new stadium? If student fees can’t be used for construction of the facility, as SDSU president David Chicoine said, this is a logical place. But it won’t be cheap and SDSU students need to be part of that conversation and need to participate actively.

It’s all confusing but there’s one thing that we can say. Coughlin-Alumni Stadium has been a great home for the Jackrabbits. Fifty-one seasons and counting and the program has gotten better in spite of, not because of Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. It simply has to go. The stands on both sides of the field have become an embarrassment. 

We’re not telling any of our readers anything they don’t already know by reiterating that the stadium has to be replaced or that we want a new one. But they better do it right. As SDSU athletic director Justin Sell has said, this is a 50-year decision. Let’s be a part of doing it right. 

Stance: The stadium needs to be replaced but it needs to be done the right way, with students in mind.