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Official Review by Jordan Baer, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The paint is barely dry on SIU’s new Saluki Stadium which opened on September 2, 2010. With a capacity of approximately 15,000, Saluki Stadium features a mostly metal horseshoe configuration with a main press box tower located on the western side of the stadium. The north end of the stadium was left open for possible future expansion, but currently features the stadium’s main and only jumbotron as well as a grassy hill for stadium overflow.
Saluki Stadium replaces McAndrew Stadium which served the Salukis from 1938 to 2009. The stadium is just one of three projects constructed under the Saluki Way Project which also included renovations to SIU Arena as well as a new athletic support facility.
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".
The food and beverage is about average and limited as far as selection. Large soft drinks, candy, and chocolate chip cookies appeared to be the top sellers at the concession stands. Like SIU Arena, the SIU Athletic Department does a great job setting up "Just Nuts" stands in the middle of the main aisles so that the smell of roasted nuts carries throughout the entire stadium.
The atmosphere at Saluki Stadium is great. 360 Architecture did a good job incorporating past Saluki players into Saluki Stadium when they were designing it. They also did a good job of designing the vast majority of the facility to show SIU's colors, logos, and history which proves that being a Saluki fan isn't a form of entertainment, it's a way of life.
One of the best things about Saluki Stadium is its newness. No matter what part of the stadium you visit, you will always see a clean, state-of-the-art, and fresh look whether it's the stands, the press box, or the field itself. This newness has certainly rubbed off on the Saluki fans who are quite proud of the direction their football program is going in.
Since Saluki Stadium is located on the southern part of the SIU campus, it is quite a ways to any nearby neighborhood. But if you get in your car and head north on State Road 51/ Southern Illinois Avenue, you will go into Downtown Carbondale where you will find a wide variety of retail and restaurants that are unique to the Carbondale region. Personally, I chose the Saluki Bar N' Grill located at 760 East Grand Avenue. There's no better place to take in the Saluki atmosphere than the Saluki Bar N' Grill!
Also, if you head east on State Road 13 towards Marion, Illinois, you will find restaurants, retail outlets, as well as a few movie theaters to provide plenty of entertainment while you are visiting the Carbondale region.
One thing I like about SIU fans- they fill up most of the stadium. The current capacity of 15,000 seems to be a good fit for SIU fans as they filled up just about all of the sections around Saluki Stadium. They also did a good job making plenty of noise by stomping their feet on the metal bleachers which makes it extremely difficult for visiting teams when they are on offense. They also do a good job of wearing SIU's main color maroon which makes the environment all the more intimidating for visiting teams.
One thing I didn't like about SIU fans- A huge percentage of them left early in the 3rd quarter. When I got up to get a soft drink at halftime, I returned to my seat and noticed that a significant portion of the fans around me were gone. I was very surprised to see that most of them never came back to their seat for any of the second half while another huge portion of SIU fans left during the 3rd quarter. Leaving games early is one thing I hate to see. Hopefully more SIU fans will start staying until the final horn.
You just can't beat free parking in a parking lot that is right next to the stadium. That's what you will get if you utilize the parking lot located directly south of the stadium. Outside of that, there isn't much parking but it really doesn't matter as the southern parking lot is large enough to house almost all guest vehicles. I have yet to attend a Saluki's football or basketball game where I had to either pay for parking or walk a long distance to my parking stall. Simply put- park in the southern parking lot and be done with it.
I wasn't too excited about tickets being $17 for endzone or $20 for sideline seats for a Missouri Valley Conference football game. But then again, that's the price you pay for access to a brand new football stadium. Indeed, Saluki Stadium is not only one of the newest stadiums built in the NCAA but also one of the nicest stadiums as well. Its design is both unique and well thought out for future expansion at the same time.
The views at Saluki Stadium, whether it be the outdoor Southern Illinois scenery, the repainted SIU power plant, or the SIU campus and athletic facilities, are breath-taking, diverse, and a must see. Yes, SIU does need to pick it up a little on the field, but I expect that to happen once the new facilities take full effect on recruiting. SIU is in a great position to challenge for the MVC title each year because of their new and/or improved facilities with Saluki Stadium leading the way.
I give one to point for SIU moving both the body and the head stone of "King Tut," who was a Saluki dog that served as SIU's mascot until 1954, from McAndrew Stadium to the southwest corner of Saluki Stadium. This maintains the tradition of touching the pyramid shaped head stone for good luck before each game.
I give one point to SIU for making a commitment to overhauling all of their premier athletic facilities. Southern Illinois is certainly a university and an athletic department on the rise.
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760 E Grand Ave
Carbondale, IL 62901
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400 Comfort Dr
Marion, IL 62959