Chadron State to open new football stadium with Black Hills State

30 August 2018

When the Chadron State College football players and coaching staff walked into the new Don Beebe Stadium for the first time last Thursday, you could hear a pin drop.

When the players stepped on Elliott Field, they were like elementary school kids on a new playground.

Veteran Eagle head coach Jay Long told CSC broadcaster Dave Collins on his Tuesday night coach's show podcast that as a former Eagle player, he will miss the old Elliott Field, but as a coach when he walks out on the field Saturday, it will be "pretty dang cool."

Add it all up and Long said the one word that describes it all is “wow.”

“I would put it up against any Division II facility; it is top notch. From what we had to this, it makes it even better,” Long said as the Eagles prepare for the season opener Saturday night at home against regional rival Black Hills State University.

To say that Chadron State College was due for a new football facility might be an understatement. The original stadium — Chadron Memorial Stadium — was built in 1929.

The new football facility, which includes a new synthetic turf, a new press box (Con Marshall Press Box), new stadium seating and a new scoreboard, is phase one of the Chadron State College Sports Complex that will also include an outdoor track facility for phase two.

The renovations carry a price tag of more than $11 million, with $8.6 million in funding already secured. Roughly $6 million was allocated for the project from funds approved by the Nebraska Legislature’s LB 957, with the remainder the result of donations.

Saturday night's game (6:30 p.m. kickoff) will be the first night home game for the Eagles since 1976.

“The biggest thing is we wanted a functional stadium. We definitely have a functional stadium,” Long said. “Chadron State has a great football atmosphere. We wanted to build upon that with a great stadium. I think what we built will definitely accomplish that.”

Long and his team was antsy to get into the stadium last week after practicing the previous couple of weeks on a nearby grass field as the construction had them fenced out. They worked out on it Thursday and Saturday and have been on it all of this week so they can get used to the facility for the game against the Yellow Jackets.

“When they (the players) stepped on the turf for the first time, the raw emotion came out and guys were yelling and they were running everywhere; they were giddy,” he said.

Long said the new complex will help with recruiting and it will help with retention. The biggest thing, he said, is how grateful they are to those who made the stadium possible.

“They are giving the opportunity for the next round of Eagles to have pride in their program, have pride in their facilities,” he said.

Time to play football

Once the Eagles step out onto the field on Saturday, it is all about competing against Black Hills State, and not the new stadium. Like every college football team in the country before the season opener, the Eagles are ready to “hit someone else.”

A former Eagle player who was the BHSU head coach for three seasons before returning to Chadron State in 2012, Long said that when you put the 15 spring practices in, put in all of the weight room of the summer in, fall camp — Wednesday was the "22nd or 23rd" practice — it’s time to play football.

The Eagles return a veteran offense, graduating just two seniors, with only four seniors.

“We’re still junior-senior oriented offense, which definitely helps,” he said.

Sophomore quarterback Dalton Holst had a big first year for the Eagles, completing 200-of-381 passes for 2,337 yards and 14 touchdowns.

“We have some good running backs coming back and a veteran O-line, so I think we’re excited about our offense. The expectations are high,” he said

As experienced as the offense is, the defense is the opposite, graduating nine starters from that side of the football.