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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium - South Dakota State Jackrabbits

Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium 1396 Stadium Road Brookings, SD 57006

Year Opened: 2016 Capacity: 19,340


The Jackrabbits’ Burrow on the Great Plains

South Dakota State University (SDSU) is a land grant university founded in 1881. It is located in Brookings, SD. The school offers more than 220 majors and is most famous for its work in the agricultural field. More than 11,000 students attend SDSU.

The athletic teams at SDSU are known as the Jackrabbits. The football program at SDSU got underway in 1889 and has played in every season since, except for the war years of 1918 and 1943. The current team plays at the FCS level of competition as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.

The team has been a powerhouse in the FCS under Coach John Stiegelmeier, as it has gone to the FCS playoffs 12 times and has gone to the playoffs for eleven consecutive seasons as of 2023. In 2022 the Jackrabbits won the FCS National Championship with a victory over North Dakota State University. Coach Steigelmeier retired after the 2022 season.

The home of the Jackrabbits is the 19,340-seat Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. Dana J. Dykhouse is a former player for SDSU who made a major donation towards the stadium’s construction. The stadium replaced Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, which served the Jackrabbits for more than 50 years. The on-campus stadium opened in time for the 2016 season. Since moving into Dykhouse Stadium the Jackrabbits have a record of 71-22.

Food & Beverage 3

The opening of Dykhouse Stadium has enhanced the food and beverage program at SDSU. There are now 56 points of sale in the six concession stands spread equally around the stadium. The concession stands are staffed by volunteers from local community organizations who get a portion of the stand’s proceeds to fund their missions.

The stands offer your typical stadium standards of hot dogs, hamburgers, tacos, popcorn, and sodas. Beer can be sold inside the stadium. All persons wishing to purchase beer must show proof of age and receive a wristband upon entering the stadium before they will be served. Sales of beer are cut off at the end of the third quarter.

Atmosphere 4

Jackrabbit fans and visitors alike are raving about the sightlines and amenities at Dykhouse Stadium. Most of the seats in the venue are seatback seating. The exception to this is the bleacher seating found at the south end of the stadium. This section is used for the SDSU student section, as well as The Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band.

Special amenities at Dykhouse Stadium include 150 loge seats that are protected from the elements, as well as 27 suites that can hold 15-20 people each. Other improvements include a soy-based turf field, a greatly expanded press box, and the Sanford Jackrabbit Athletic Complex behind the north end zone. This facility houses locker rooms, coach's offices, training facilities, and an indoor practice facility.

By far the most obvious improvement in the fan experience is the 3,100 square-foot LED video board atop the south stands. The video board was built by Daktronics, whose world headquarters is just down the street from SDSU.

The stadium also utilizes the yellow and blue school colors of SDSU throughout the venue, creating even more school spirit than a plain steel structure.

Neighborhood 3

The immediate neighborhood surrounding Dykhouse Stadium is the SDSU campus. If the weather is nice, it is a beautiful campus with stunning architecture and lots of trees. One on-campus spot we heartily recommend is the SDSU Dairy Bar. It offers more than 100 ice cream flavors. The cookies and cream flavor was invented by the SDSU dairy program!

The campus is in Brookings, SD, which is located 55 miles north of Sioux Falls, SD (which is the closest airport with commercial air traffic). It is just west of I-29 in the eastern portion of the state. It is a small town with lots of mom-and-pop stores. Most of the lodging in the Brookings area is concentrated at the I-29 interchange. However, the Comfort Suites University is located adjacent to the campus.

We have several recommendations as far as restaurants and bars in the area. If you are on a budget or have kids with you, head to Nick’s Hamburgers in downtown Brookings. They’ve been in business since 1929 and offer a tasty burger with their special seasoning. After you’ve finished your burger, try one of their thick shakes or a slice of their delicious pies.

For a more sophisticated meal, head to the Pheasant Restaurant and Lounge, which has been around since 1949. There are also two brewhouses in Brookings. Eponymous Brewing Company and Wooden Legs Brewing Company offer a variety of craft beers.

There are several interesting attractions in Brookings. McCrory Gardens is adjacent to the SDSU campus and offers 25 acres of gardens and a 45-acre arboretum. The Agricultural Heritage Museum features the history of farming in South Dakota and has some great displays of farm equipment from past eras.

Fans 4

The Jackrabbits have one of the most “rabbit” fanbases in the Missouri Valley Conference. The spirit groups at the school do a great job of getting the fans fired up for the game. The Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band plays a great selection of music along with the fight song that is played after each Jackrabbit score. The student body is seated to the left and the right of the band and is known as the Rabbit Den. Many choose to wear a uniform of striped bib jeans featuring the school colors. They can get very creative with their cheers.

Another aspect of the fan base at SDSU is the tailgaters. They arrive as early as five hours before kickoff to set up some impressive spreads of food. They also do a masterful job of decorating their tailgate in the school colors.

One of the most cherished traditions for the tailgates is the Jackrabbit Team Walk before the game. This procession includes the cheerleaders and The Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band.

Access 4

It is relatively easy to get to Dykhouse Stadium from I-29.

Take the US 29 exit off I-29 and head west on Sixth Street (US 29). Turn right onto Jackrabbit Avenue. Parking is available at the roundabout located at the intersection of Jackrabbit Avenue and University Boulevard. These are general public parking spaces, and they charge $10 in cash to park. The other lots are used by the season ticket holders or for the RV’s that travel to SDSU games.

Once you head over to the stadium from your car, there are five large gates to the venue. Gates open 90 minutes before the kickoff, leaving you plenty of time to get to your seats. You will find the concourses to be much wider than they have been in the past, and signage to get you to your seats is excellent.

Return on Investment 5

Attending a Jackrabbits game at Dykhouse Stadium will not burn a hole in your pocket. Tickets, food purchases, and parking are all quite reasonably priced when compared with other stadiums at the same level of competition.

Single-game tickets for Jackrabbit games are surprisingly low priced considering SDSU’s success in the FCS playoffs in recent years. Ticket prices begin at $17 (seats along the goal line and in the 200 level of the stadium), then go up to $22 (seats along the 20's) and top out at $32 (seats along the 50-yard line.

The concessions at Dykhouse Stadium are also very reasonably priced, as they compare favorably to the prices you would find at a grocery store. Parking at SDSU games is $10 cash.

Extras 3

The Jackrabbits have sent more than 50 players on to play in professional football. Among the more familiar names are NFL Hall of Famer Jim Langer, Pete Retzlaff, Steve Heiden, Dallas Goedert and Adam Vinatieri.

The Jackrabbits have several rivalry games each season against some of their regional opponents. The game against the University of South Dakota is part of the Showdown Series in which the schools compete in all sports, with the school with the most athletic wins in meetings between the schools winning the trophy for the next year.

The Beef Bowl recognizes the Beef Industry as a major contributor to the South Dakota economy. There is a BBQ before the game, and a live steer is auctioned off during the halftime activities. The game against North Dakota State is the Dakota Marker game, with the winner taking home the Marker trophy for the next year.

The Homecoming game is known as Hobo Day. It has been an SDSU tradition since 1912. Male students are encouraged not to shave in the week before the game so that they have a scruffy appearance and women are urged to let their hair go wild. At halftime, a Hobo King and Queen are chosen.

Final Thoughts

Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium at South Dakota State University provides a very enjoyable environment in which to enjoy a Jackrabbits football game. The stadium is relatively new compared with many of the other Missouri Valley Conference schools.

The pregame experience gets you off to a great start, with some awesome tailgating. Once inside you’ll be able to keep up with the game with the assistance of the massive videoboard atop the end zone. Best of all, it will not cost you an arm and a leg to enjoy the game….so hop to it.

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