SD universities eye new sports facilities

By Wayne Ortman
Associated Press Writer / October 7, 2010

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D.—The state's two largest universities have crafted a $100 million wish list of improvements to their sporting facilities, including building a new football stadium for South Dakota State University and a new multi-purpose arena for the University of South Dakota.

The state Board of Regents will consider approving a study into the projects' feasibility when it convenes Oct. 13-14 in Rapid City.

In addition to a new football stadium, SDSU wants to add an indoor multi-sport practice center on its Brookings campus.

The USD project in Vermillion involves a new arena for basketball and volleyball and renovations to the 31-year-old DakotaDome.

If approved, the preliminary study would look at how to fund the projects. Approval to develop the plans further and to start construction would be required later.

A capital improvement list drawn up by the universities estimates costs at $55 million for the football stadium and $35 million for the practice facility at SDSU. The USD building carries a $32.5 million price tag.

"We're using up every inch of this facility," USD Athletic Director David Sayler said of the DakotaDome, completed in 1979 at a cost of $8.2 million and home to the state's only indoor football field. `It's a great facility, but we're outgrowing it space-wise."

SDSU is already competing at the NCAA Division I level. The University of South Dakota is in the process of moving from Division II to Division I.

"Even if we stayed (Division II) we would need to add this at some point," Sayler said of the proposed new building. "We have three coaches sharing one cubicle, people sitting in hallways with desks. We don't have enough space to do things, regardless if we're Division I or II."

Sayler envisions linking the basketball-volleyball arena to the DakotaDome with a connector building that would have classrooms and office space.

South Dakota State University has developed a 15-year master plan for athletics, said Justin Sell, its athletic director.

"This is really just the next step in being able to take a look at perhaps how much some of the various projects cost and how we can put some funding pieces together to be able to add those projects," he said Wednesday.

Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, which opened in September 1962, had an average attendance of 13,265 at seven football games in 2009.

Under study at SDSU is a new football stadium seating 20,000 to 22,000 with individual spectator suites and artificial turf. The indoor practice center would include an 80-yard synthetic field for team practices, a 300-meter running track, offices, lockers, strength and conditioning rooms, and areas for sports medicine.

There's no deadline for either the USD or SDSU study to be completed.

"Ideally it would be nice to put some things together, do that study work to try to be able to go back to the Board of Regents a year from now," Sell said of SDSU's study. "That would be ideal. Will it work out that way? There are a lot of factors and variables we will deal with."

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