New football stadium plans being drafted

Marcus Traxler Editor-in-Chief

The long-talked about replacement for Coughlin-Alumni Stadium may be in SDSU’s short-term future. 

Last week, the university went before the Board of Regents’ building committee to present plans for a new football stadium, which could cost as much as $65 million and could be ready for the 2016 football season. 

The next two months are especially key for university officials, who are supposed to submit a plan for financing and facility use by December, when the Board of Regents will meet in Rapid City for a regular meeting. From there, the regents and state legislature would have to approve the stadium plan. If completed as proposed, the project would be the most expensive to ever occur on a state campus.

“As we’ve taken steps toward those actions laid out in the plan, we’ve felt pretty good about the feedback we’ve received, and so we’ve been encouraged,” Chicoine told the Argus Leader last week. “But at the end of the day you never know until you really know. That’s why these next 60 days are going to be pretty important for whether or not this project is going to be feasible in the time frame we’d hope to get it carried out in.” 

The goal would be to build the stadium in segments, starting with the east and south sides of the stadium and the working on the west side in phase two. That plan would allow the Jackrabbits to continue playing on campus while construction is in progress. 

The proposed capacity has been listed at 18,500, down from the 22,000 listed in the athletic department’s master plan but that lower figure will likely change before construction begins. The stadium would include more than 20 suites and would include club level seating and loge boxes that are commonly found in new stadiums. Included in the plans is moving the University Police Department’s station to the first level of the new stadium. The stadium would require new lights to be installed but the facility would keep the scoreboard in the south end zone, which was added in 2005. SDSU – the only team in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with grass – would change to artificial turf with the new facility. 

The university hopes to sell bonds to help fund the stadium, maybe to pay for as much as $50 million. Among the ideas discussed for raising money for the stadium’s cost includes student fees. That doesn’t exactly mesh with the recent proposal from the Board of Regents to freeze student tuition and fees. The BOR will likely take up that issue in coming months but BOR CEO Jack Warner said that student fees might not match up with the goal to freeze student costs.

“We’ve just begun having conversations with students about that possibility,” Chicoine told the regents. 

The new stadium would complete the massive changes that have occurred in the last 10 years near Coughlin-Alumni. The Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center was added in 2010 at a cost of $6 million to house the football team’s offices and locker rooms and for student-athlete advising. The university broke ground in August on a $32 million indoor facility to house an indoor track, a 100-yard turf field and sports medicine facilities. That building is supposed to open next fall.