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Official Review by Marcus Traxler, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
South Dakota State’s Coughlin-Alumni Stadium has been the home of Jackrabbits football for 50 years now and has served admirably for generations of SDSU fans, but the structure is showing its age.
As SDSU improves its surroundings, the football stadium will get small fixes but will continue to lack what it needs to be a top-of-the-line FCS stadium.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Coughlin-Alumni Stadium has standard fare when it comes to concession options. A hot dog and walking taco are the lead options at the main concession located under the grandstand. As the main concession option, it almost always leads to long lines at halftime. Plan ahead for a wait.
A hot dog is $3.50 and nachos are $3, which turned out to be a pretty solid deal. Popcorn and pretzels with cheese check in at $2.50.
Coke products are available to drink in more locations inside the stadium. A 24-ounce soda is $2.50, while a larger souvenir cup is $4.
A Brookings' favorite, Nick's Hamburgers, has a stand inside the gates, along with pizza from Papa John's. If you want Nick's, buy them before halftime.
SDSU has played at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium since 1962. Named after Charles Coughlin, who was the lead donor among alumni to build the stadium, CAS was planned to have concrete structure bleachers on both sides of the stadium. Funds were limited and only the west side stands went up and that's the way it remains 50 years later. SDSU has wood bleachers on the east side of the stadium, painted yellow. The north section of those bleachers is for the visiting team.
SDSU has an unofficial capacity of 15,000 for CAS but is prepared to pack as many people inside of the stadium as possible, including rivalry games against NDSU and USD.
Lights were added to the stadium in 2001 and the field is also used by the Brookings High School football team. It is the only home stadium in the Missouri Valley Football Conference to have a natural grass surface.
SDSU has drawn large crowds since moving to D-I football in 2004, and has increased the need for a new stadium. For now, the school is fixing what they can and has added new bleachers in the south end zone for the Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band and more students to sit in. The plan is to build a new indoor practice facility for outdoor sports on the north edge of the stadium and then attempt to raise money and replace CAS with a 22,000 seat horseshoe stadium.
One of the biggest advantages to the stadium is that the seats are close to the field of play, even if you are in the top rows.
The atmosphere is strong on game days but the wood bleachers on one side of the stadium remain a damper on the stadium as whole.
Coughlin-Alumni Stadium is located on the north edge of campus and the area is festive on a game day. North of the Dykhouse Center is "The Backyard," which is where the heartiest of Jackrabbit fans tailgate prior to games. If you want to meet and socialize with SDSU fans before the game, this is where you want to be. The other lots surrounding the stadium also will have tailgaters set up. It's worth noting: the tailgating lots close 30 minutes prior to kickoff.
If you want to head downtown, you can find plenty of bars and restaurants that will have rowdy SDSU fans. Cubby's is the prime hangout on Saturdays with a large menu and bar selection.
The SDSU fans are friendly and the students will be supportive, usually filling their three designated sections in the main section. The students also have a reputation of being "fair weather" fans, as well.
SDSU does draw well for home games, averaging over 12,000 fans a game in 2011. The school also set a new record for season tickets sold, proving that the product is as popular as ever.
When Jackrabbits fans get off their hands and cheer, the difference is noticeable, as the old press box at the top of the stadium has been known to shake and sway with cheering.
The ability to get to the football stadium is usually good leading up to the game. North Campus Drive, which runs just south of the stadium, is usually blocked off on game days but you can still reach parking lots from that road. One of the better places to park on campus is on the north side of Briggs Library, where there are two lots there that are pretty accessible from the north and west. The parking lot directly west of the stadium is reserved for Jackrabbit Club members.
Reserved tickets in the east side bleachers are $25 and there is a small section of single-game tickets on the sturdier west side bleachers. The rest of the west side seats are chairback seats occupied by season-ticket holders. Otherwise, there's $20 standing room tickets available for each game. The prices are higher for Hobo Day, SDSU's annual homecoming game and for the rivalry game against the University of South Dakota.
It's $5 to park pretty much anywhere on campus and I think the concession prices are fair but I have an issue with ticket prices being as high as they are in the type of stadium SDSU has.
The quality of play in the Missouri Valley Football Conference is good, but the price is a tad steep for a Jacks game.
One point for a nice scoreboard by Daktronics, which is headquartered in Brookings.
One more point for Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center, which is nice and will only improve SDSU's recruiting if they can add a fieldhouse onto the end of it, which is in their plans.
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