New stadium student fees on hold … for now

 

 Any plans to include student fees in the funding of the new football stadium at SDSU are on hold for now, while the athletic department puts together its plan to pay for the $60-$65 million facility. 

SDSU athletic director Justin Sell took questions for almost 45 minutes from the Students’ Association on Monday night, ranging from whether or not alcohol would be sold in the new Dykhouse Stadium to how a potential student section would look. 

On the topic of student fees, Sell said he would like to have more time to sit down and talk to students, whether a student stadium fee would come into play or not. He said the athletic department has always had the belief that the funding for those sports should come on their own accord, with as little assistance as possible from the students. 

Students currently pay $10.15 per credit hour that goes toward athletics and Title IX funding and deposits into the department’s general fund, helping to pay for the 21 varsity sports 

 

 SDSU has and to allow students to attend sporting events by just swiping their student ID. All told, it amounts to $152.25 for a 15-credit semester for each student and $2.4 million from students each year. 

Sell explained that the university is attempting to raise $15 or $20 million to go toward the price of the stadium, which would only go up if SDSU isn’t able to get a funding plan approved by the BOR in December. The amount of donations, which would be 25 percent on a $60 million stadium, would essentially “buy down” the amount the university would have to sell bonds for. The bonds would then be paid off over a term of approximately 25 years using the sales of suites, premium seating, season tickets, parking and concessions. 

The stadium will include at least 18,000 seats and would be done in time for the 2016 season. The university received gifts to lead the project on Hobo Day totaling $12.5 million, including $10 million from local philanthropist T. Denny Sanford and $2.5 million from former SDSU football player and Sioux Falls banker Dana Dykhouse, for whom the stadium will be named after. 

Sell explained that the university has been working on the stadium for the last 18 months and that it’s going to be a short timeline for the university to finish its finance plan. Materials for that plan are due to the Board of Regents by Nov. 12 to make sure it’s in time for the December regular meeting. They will be the ones who will sign off on the plan and send it to the legislature for approval in the 2014 session. 

As for that alcohol question, Sell said that’s not a priority right now. He said the concern with selling beer in the stadium is that it becomes a political issue about alcohol and would take the focus off of the stadium. 

“That’s not one we’re going to tackle for a bit,” he said, to the question posed by Sen. Bryce Kummer. 

Among the other highlights from Sell’s forum with senators:

• He said he’s of the mindset that the facility should be part of the university and the community, meaning that if groups want to use it or the community wants to hold an event at the new stadium, they should be able to do it. He said he doesn’t want the athletic department to become territorial about its use. 

• Over the last four seasons, SDSU has had an average attendance of 2,400 students at home football games. The new stadium will have 3,500 seats for students and members of the Pride of the Dakotas marching band. Students would likely be located in the end zone and Sell said he would like to see the band in the center of the end zone with students on both sides for a seating alignment. 

• The stadium will include a 15,000 square foot club room, which would be used year round. That space is about the same size as the Volstorff Ballroom and groups have already inquired about the use of that space, including for the annual meeting of the SDSU Foundation. 

• Sell said he’s had informal conversations with the organizers at the Swiftel Center about partnering on events or concerts at the new stadium but he said that’s “not part of our business plan.”

• Along the lines of student athletic fees, the students at Missouri State – SDSU’s opponent in football Saturday – approved a fee of $50 per semester to raise $1.6 million each year. Of that, $1.4 million will pay off $20 million in bonds on new student seating at MSU’s football stadium, a sand volleyball complex and new soccer/track and field and field hockey/lacrosse complexes. The other $200,000 would “enhance the student experience” at sporting events.