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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Saluki Stadium – Southern Illinois Salukis


Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey & SIU Athletic Department


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Saluki Stadium 2 Arena Dr Carbondale, IL 62901



Year Opened: 2010

Capacity: 15,000

 

Having Fun with the Salukis


Saluki Stadium is home to the Southern Illinois University football team. The venue was completed in 2010, features a horseshoe-shaped design, and houses 15,000 for games. The stadium replaced McAndrew Stadium, which operated from 1937-2009. The $25.3 million stadium was part of the $83 million Saluki Way Project.


The stadium features a two-story press box, 12 club suites, a 2,500-square-foot VIP Club Room, a video board, and field turf. The stadium offers 1,080 seat-back chairs and seating for 2,500 fans in the grass berm area in the north end zone. In total, the capacity is 15,000.


The Salukis name was adopted in 1951 and replaced the name Maroons. A Saluki is an ancient Egyptian hunting dog, and Southern Illinois is known as Little Egypt. King Tut (a living dog mascot) debuted in 1953; he became a fixture at games and around campus but passed away a year later. A concrete tomb was erected in 1960, where his remains exist inside in front of the stadium.


The football program has been a member of the Missouri Valley Conference since 1985 and has shared or been outright champions on 5-occasions. They appeared in 10 FCS playoffs, with the bulk of them coming between 2003 and 2019. In 1983, the school won a national championship with a 43-7 victory over Western Carolina.


The school has several current and former National Football League players. A few former players include Jim Hart, who quarterbacked the St. Louis Cardinals for 15 seasons, and former Ravens and Jets All-Pro Bowl linebacker Bart Scott. The current list: Jeremy Chinn, Madre Harper, and MyCole Pruitt. Ryan Neal and Craig James.


Food & Beverage 3


The food and beverages are similar to many other venues in the Missouri Valley Conference. Fans can enjoy hot dogs, brats, nachos, chicken tender baskets, and an assortment of soft drinks and sweet treats. MillerCoors products are available at the game. There are enough snacks to enjoy during the game, but many many get their fill up on food and beverage during the tailgate.


Atmosphere 4


The atmosphere kicks off 3 hours before kickoff on Saluki Row, where visitors can enjoy tailgating on the grass practice fields, pre-game food and drink, a wide range of entertainment, and free admission to many of these spirited pre-game events.


The Marching Saluki Show starts at the Banterra Center and is a must-see before the game. The marching band makes its way through the fans and into the stadium. It passes through the concrete pyramid containing the original mascot remains and has become a good luck symbol for the football team to touch while entering the stadium.


The stadium is designed in a horseshoe shape with a grass berm at one end of the bowl with a digital video board. There is a large press box standing on the side of the stadium, and a plaque commemorating McAndrew Stadium is on the main concourse. Except for chairback seating in sections 4, 5, and 7, all other seating is metal bleachers that rise 20 rows high.



Neighborhood 3


The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail is a short drive from campus and consists of 11 wineries, restaurants, specialty shops, breweries, art galleries, inns, and cabins. The well-marked trail takes visitors through the rolling hills to scenic spots and plenty of vino and memories.


Downtown Carbondale offers a nostalgic town square that includes 25 historic buildings. The historic square offers places to shop and eat for visitors. You will find places to eat and drink in the area, including the Underground Public House, Bombay Olive, Sausea’s Seafood, Mary Lou’s Grill, and Quatro’s Deep Dish Pizza.


The area offers a few things to visit, including the hands-on children’s museum, The Science Center, Super Splash Park (if there before Labor Day), and the nature preserve Marberry Arboretum. There are also three vineyards within a few miles: Monte Alegre, Kate Hill, and Black Jack.


Fans 5


The fans support the football team well year after year. An average size crowd can range anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000. The Dawg Pound is the school’s student section and is where you will find many decked out in maroon and white striped overalls or waving flags in support of the Salukis.



Access 3


Carbondale is on SR-13 and 51, 18 miles west of Marion, Illinois, and I-57. Visitors should expect a 30-minute drive to campus from this direction, but the stadium is easy to locate off of South Illinois Ave. It sits next to the basketball arena, Bantera Center.


The stadium's layout is simple, with the concourse underneath the seating bowl. The concourse area offers various concession stands, restrooms, a merchandise store, and an information center.


Return on Investment 4


The price for a ticket is as low as $12 for end zone seats in sections 11-16, while sections 1-4, 8-10, and 22-27 are $15. The student seating is located in sections 17-21, and premium seating with chairback seating exists at midfield in sections 5-7 at $35-$40. Crowd sizes are impressive and range between 8,000 and 10,000. A $12 ticket for a festive crowd is a nice return on the investment's price.



Extras 3


King Tut's Tomb, outside the stadium, pays homage to the school's first mascot, King Tut. He was buried under the pyramid at its original location of McAndrew Stadium. When the tomb was moved to the current stadium, his remains were left behind. The pyramid is touched for good luck by players and staff and is an ideal photo spot for fans. The two bronze Saluki statues are another great feature at the stadium. The tailgating is impressive in the various lots around the venue.


Final Thoughts


A Salukis game offers a festive atmosphere for an FCS stadium. The fanbase, brand of football, and gameday atmosphere visit Southern Illinois, a joyful weekend divergence during the college football season.


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Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunterand his YouTube channel. Email at Marc.Viquez@stadiumjourney.com






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